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Fkatourt am Mim. 

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| JUDAH 289 


The Family of Jehoiarib . . \ 31 1 


i The Family of the A smoneans 349 








The history of the Hebrew people possesses an interest 
and importance which belongs to no other. Not only 
do their annals excel those of all other nations in their 
antiquity and truth,— in the magnitude and wonderful 
character of the events related in them, — and in the 
simplicity and beauty of their style ; but they espe- 
cially challenge the serious attention of mankind 
from the circumstance, that they contain the records 
of a people, among whom God has condescended to 
reveal almost the entire of what is known concerning 
himself, and whom he hath chosen to be the conduits 
of his mercy to all the families of the earth. Their 
history moreover is replete with lessons of instruc- 
tion ; for which it was indeed designed.* Herein the 
moralist and philosopher may behold the most strik- 
ing illustrations of the depravity of the human heart, 
and of the misery which attends apostacy from God ; 
herein the statesman and the politician may discover 
the true secret of the wealth and prosperity of na- 
tions, with the only sound principles of good govern- 
ment ; every departure from which he will find visited 

* 1 Cor. x. 11. Rom. xv. 4. 

v »l PREFACE. 

sooner or later with national chastisements and per- 
plexity. These therefore are the great facts and prin- 
ciples, which I have endeavoured to keep in view in 
the progress of this volume ; being persuaded that the 
naturalist, who should satisfy himself with describing 
animals from the stuffed skins of them which he finds 
in the Museum, instead of considering their habits, 
functions, and peculiarities from living specimens, 
would not produce a work more wanting of reality =» 
and life, than a history of Israel would be, in which 
either the principles above-mentioned should be lost 
sight of, or the miracles and wonderful interposi- 
tions of Providence with which the Hebrew chroni- 
cles abound. 

In other respects the composition of a history of 
times with which we are not contemporary, is but a 
compilation of facts made ready to our hands by 
others. The only questions of importance in such 
case are, whether the writer has consulted the best 
authorities, and has exercised due caution and dis- 
crimination in selecting his materials. In regard to 
the former of these points, it will save much trouble 
both to the reader and myself, and likewise redeem 
the space required by constant references, if I here 
mention the writers whom I have principally followed. 
The holy scriptures form the chief records of Israel 
down to their return from Babylon. There are no- 
tices of circumstances, connected with this period of 
their history, in those ancient writers Sanchoniatho, 
Berosus, Manetho and others, whom I have quoted 
when their testimony is either curious or important. A 
valuable service has in this respect been performed 
for the student of history, by R. P. Cary, Esq. of 
Cambridge, who has collected into one volume all the 

•\ PREFACE. ix 


| existing fragments of genuine profane antiquity, 

J together with the different Greek or Latin readings 
! of the several authors, in whose works they are 
quoted from the original. For the period extend- 
ing from the restoration of the Jews from Babylon, 
down" to the subversion of their polity by Titus, I 
have followed Josephus, the writer of the first book 
of Maccabees, and Philo, who are all Jewish histo- 
rians. I am indebted also to the labors of Dr. Pri- 
deaux, in his Connexion of Profane with Sacred 
History ; besides the notices of the later portion of 
those times to be found in the Roman historians. Of 
the period after the dispersion down to the Protestant 

) Reformation, the third, sixth and seventh books of 
Basnage form the substratum; but numerous other 
authorities are here interwoven. For the last period, 
viz. from the Reformation down to the present time, 
I have been compelled to draw my materials from 
so many sources, that I hardly know how to specify 
one more than another. In all instances, however, 
where I have not here named my authorities, I have 

| given the references to them in the body of the work ; 

] and when the occasion has seemed *to call for it, I 
have inserted the references even to those authorities 
which are here mentioned. 

But though I am necessarily indebted to the labors 

"i of others for my facts, I have endeavoured through- 

] out to form my own independent judgment of the 
real character of those facts, and of the inferences to 
be drawn from them. Friends, whose opinions I 
highly respect, have advised me to be as brief as 
possible in those portions of the history with which 
the public is supposed to be familiar, through the 
medium of the holy scriptures; and to enter more 


into detail in those periods, for which we are obliged 
to have recourse exclusively to profane records. I 
have felt constrained however to go contrary to these 
suggestions : for without stopping to inquire whether 
Christians in general are really so familiar with the 
sacred chronicles, as some would give them credit for 
being ; and whether, in regard to the New Testament 
portion of the history, we ought not likewise to con- 
sider the Jews, (by some of whom I have reason to 
expect the present volume will be perused ;) it ap- 
pears to me erroneous in principle to pass cursorily 
over those portions of the history on which we can 
best rely,— and from which we can infer the mind of 
God, in his dealings with his people, on authority 
not to be disputed,— and to enlarge only when we 
quit the field of inspired writ, and launch into an 
ocean of authorities, many of which are of a ques- 
tionable character, and from none of which can the 
purposes of God be inferred with the like certainty. 
For reasons which have appeared to me equally 
weighty, I have given larger biographical notices of 
the earlier patriarchs, than friends have recommend- 
ed. For a strange notion has obtained with many, 
that the'perversenessand hardness of the Hebrews, 
in their wilderness-state and subsequently, arose 
from a something constitutional, or from the invete- 
rate prejudices of education, derived from their 
fathers, the counterpart of which is no where else to 
be found in the human race ; whereby such persons 
deprive themselves of the benefit to be derived from 
the due consideration of their conduct, and of the 
chastisements with which God has at different periods 
visited them. But though I have considered it im- 
portant to relate such incidents of the fathers, as 


will place their character in a proper point of view, 
I have nevertheless studied brevity and conciseness 
in this matter : which indeed has been my aim 
throughout the work, — often, I fear, to the prejudice 
of the history : but a necessity has been laid upon 
me, of compressing the events, which have princi- 
pally affected Israel for nearly four thousand years, 
into the compass of a single volume. 

The chronology adopted in this work likewise re- 
quires a few observations. In order to save myself 
the labour of investigation, it was my original in- 
tention to have followed that published a few years 
since, by W. F. Clinton, Esq, in the Appendix to 
Vol. I. of his Fasti Hellenici. In the course, however, 
of checking the computation as I went on, I disco- 
vered an error ; and as this induced me to consider 
the whole subject, I was finally led to adopt the 
Hebrew chronology (rejected by Mr. Clinton,) from 
the conviction at which I arrived, that it is in the 
main correct ; though I have still followed him in 
his corrections of the chronology of the kings of 
Judah and Ephraim, the obscurities of which he has 
admirably cleared up. To the principal difficulties 
of this subject I must briefly advert. 

There are two chasms in the scripture chronology, 
occurring between the Exodus and the reign of David. 
The first is from the death of Moses to the end of the 
time of " the elders who overlived Joshua." The se- 
cond is from the death of Samson to the election of 
Saul. The obscurity of these periods, and indeed of 
the whole intervening space from Moses to David, is 
increased by the following difficulty. In 1st Kings 
vi. 1. it is stated, that Solomon began to build the 
house of the Lord in the four hundred and eightieth 


year after the children of Israel had come out of 
Egypt, and in the fourth year of his reign. But in 
Acts xiii. 18—22, Paul makes the same period dif- 
ferent, viz. 40 years for the sojourning in the wil- 
derness, 450 years for the times of the judges, and 
40 years afterwards for David, making together 530 
years. He omits to specify the duration of the term 
between Moses and the Judges, though he mentions 
the term itself, saying, " And when he had destroyed 
seven nations in the land of Canaan, he divided their 
land to them by lot ; and after that he gave judges 
about the space of 450 years, until Samuel the pro- 
phet." If we allow seven years for this space, and 
add 43 years more for the declared period from the 
beginning of David's reign to the fourth year of So- 
lomon, we have 580 years for the whole term, instead 
of 480. 

Now those who follow 1 Kings vi. 1, as a genuine 
text, adjust the two periods of obscurity to suit the 
term therein mentioned, and have different modes of . 
explaining Acts xiii. 18—22. Those, on the other 
hand, who consider the apostle as assigning the true 
date, are compelled to regard the texts in 1 Kings vi. 
as corrupt, and therefore lengthen the details of the 
whole term to suit their hypotheses. They have also 
the countenance of the Greek version and of Jo- 

* The mistake of Mr. Clinton, though he contends for the longer 
period, nevertheless shortens the first chasm beyond what appears to 
be just. From the death of Moses he allows 5 years for the conquest 
and division of Canaan, and 25 years for the remainder of Joshua's 
time, making together 30 years. But he ultimately marks down for 
this chasm, which reaches to the first servitude of Israel, only 27 
years, including besides the remaining term of the elders that overlived 
Joshua. At the least 10 years ought to be added for these, when it is 
considered that not one of them could have been twenty years of age 


| Now the date in 1 Kings vi. 1, is mentioned with 
,J great particularity ; whereas Paul, on the contrary, 
does not affect accuracy, but uses to each period he 
mentions the word *<ws (e. g. 'ws ctcc* rerpaKoaiois — 'as 
TetraapaKovra err},) which 'cos Beroaldus translates quasi, 
and contends that Paul designedly uses it to avoid 
the difficulties of the subject, (Gamaliel and other 
rabbins taking different views of the periods of ser- 
vitude,) just as a man would do, who desired not to 
| weaken his argument on more important matters by 
I exciting needless controversy or prejudice.* If there- 
fore we adopt the longer period, it is at the serious 
alternative of declaring a text to be corrupt or spu- 
| rious, which is explicit on the point, and of adopting 
as the accurate computation one which seemingly 
studies to be vague. Moreover 1 Kings vi. does cor- 
respond with another term mentioned roundly in 
Judges xi. 26, where Jephthah states that they had 
possessed the country of the Amorites from Arnon to 

> at the time when the land was searched. (See Numbers xiv. 29—31.) 
| The 5 years also which Mr. Clinton allows for the division of the 
J lands is not sufficient j for it was in the second year of the Exodus 
| that the spies were sent out, when Caleb was 40 years old -, and he 
was 85 years old when he claimed Hebron for his inheritance. (Josh, 
xiv. 7 and 10.) If therefore to 40 years 38 be added for the remainder 
•: of the wilderness-term, 7 years remain to make up the 85 years of 
Caleb's age at the time alluded to. (See the Fasti Hellenici, pages 
■$ 294—302.) In the note (s) of the latter page, Mr. Clinton further 
states that " the time of the death of Joshua is not assigned : " But his 
;.* age at the time of his death is, and stated to be 1 10 years j (Josh. xxiv. 
I 29. Judges ii. 8 ;) and if, as Mr. Clinton supposes, he was of the same 
age as Caleb when they went forth as spies, he must have overlived 
1 Moses 32 years. One circumstance however renders it doubtful, if 
Joshua could have been 40 years old at that time ; viz. in Exod. xxxiii. 
11, and Numb. xi. 28, Joshua is called " a young man," nV2* signi- 
fying a boy or lad ; and though some latitude must be allowed for the 
expression, it nevertheless appears preposterous to speak of a man of 
40 years of age as a lad. 

* Beroaldus. Chron. lib. iii. c. 4. 


Jabbok for " about 300 years ; " which sum it is diffi- 
cult to accommodate to the longer term without 
violence to the scripture text. Besides this, there 
is to my mind a conclusive argument on this subject 
derived from the genealogies contained in Matthew 
and Luke. From Rahab the harlot (who was the 
mother of Boaz and the contemporary of Joshua) to 
Solomon inclusive was only five generations ; and it 
is utterly impossible to reconcile the longer period 
with the probable ages of the intermediate parties,— 
Boaz, Obed, Jesse and David ; which must, in that 
case, have averaged upwards of 130 years each.* 

I have only finally to observe, in regard to this 
History, that I have not sought the undertaking of 
myself; that I am sensible of my own inadequacy 
for so responsible a task ; and that in the same spirit 
of prayer and dependance upon God which this con- 
viction has led me to aim at, whilst pursuing the 
work, I now send it forth to the public, humbly be- 
seeching that through Divine mercy it may be made 
useful to the Church of Christ. 

* The reader who would see more of this subject is referred to the 
work of Mr. Clinton already quoted ; to the communications of Mr 
W. Cuninghame and Mr. J. Cullimore, in the " Morning Watch- »' 
and to the papers of the latter gentleman in Fraser's Magazine for 
May and October of 1836, in which much learned research is brought 
to bear upon sacred chronology in general, and the genuineness of 
l ^? Sf L X t 1 ' iS ably vindicated - » is to be regretted that the papers 
of Mr. Cullimore are not collected and published by themselves 


Page 5, last line of Note ; for "suppose Elam to be Elymais," read 
" suppose it be some other place." 

Page 150, last line but two of Note ; for " lay north of it," read 
" la.y south of it." 

Page 176, second line of Note j for " before Christ 5/8," read " be- 
fore Christ 587." 




[a.m. 2083.] The history of the Hebrew or Israelitish 
nation properly commences with the divine call of 
Abram, who, by infallible authority, is declared 
to be " the rock from whence it was hewn, and the 
hole of the pit from whence it was digged." Isa. li. 1. 
God at this time appeared to Abram, and directed 
him to leave his country and his kindred, and to go 
forth into a land which he would shew him. He 
likewise encouraged him by precious promises ; but 
as these were afterwards greatly amplified, it will 
prevent unnecessary repetition, if the sum of what 
was covenanted, on all the various occasions when 
God manifested himself, be at once recited. It was 
as follows : that God would bless Abram, and make 
him a blessing; that he would give to him one seed 
pre-eminently, through whom all the families of the 



earth should be blessed ; that he should likewise 
have an offspring innumerable as the stars of heaven, 
and the sand which is by the sea-shore ; so that he 
should become a great nation and the father of many 
nations ; that his seed should possess the gate of 
their enemies, and that both to him and them the 
Lord would give the land, which he purposed to 
shew him, for an everlasting possession. The land 
granted was from the Euphrates on the east to the 
Mediterranean on the west ; and from Lebanon, in- 
clusive, on the north, to the river of Egypt on the 
south. (Gen. xv. 18. Deut. xi. 24. Josh. i. 4.) 

Of the history of Abram previous to his call we 
know but little : much is indeed related of him by 
the oriental writers ; but their narratives are, for the 
most part, disfigured by extravagant legends; and 
what they contain of truth is manifestly derived 
from the holy scriptures, the only authentic record 
of those times. From these we learn that Abram 
was a younger son of Terah, (who was the ninth 
from Noah in the line of Shem;) that he resided first 
at Ur of the Chaldees, and then at Haran, until the 
death of his father ; and that he was seventy-five 
years of age when he quitted his country and kin- 
dred for the land of Canaan. 

As the country from which Abram originally sprang 
was Chaldea, the circumstance that he is neverthe- 
less called always in the scriptures a Syrian or a 
Hebrew, seems first to require explanation. The 
whole country between the Tigris and the Jordan 
appears to have been designated in those times by 
the general name of Syria, comprehending several 
distinct regions, as Mesopotamia or Chaldea ; the 
territory of the Damascenes, which stretched to the 


shores of the Mediterranean, north of Palestine ; and 
at a subsequent period the territory of the Ammo- 
nites, whose capital was Rabbah. 1 Abram therefore 
was a Syrian in regard to the general name of the 
country, and a Chaldean with respect to the particular 
region of it. 2 The term Hebreiv is by many suppposd 
to be derived from Eber, the great-grandson of Shem ; 
but there is no apparent reason why Abram and his 
posterity should have been called after an ancestor six 
generations removed from him, and of whom nothing 
particular is recorded. There is no evidence that any 
of the intermediate generations, between Eber and 
Abram, were called Hebrews : and what is still more 
conclusive against this origin of the name, the kin- 
dred of Abram who remained in Mesopotamia, as 
Nahor, Laban, &c, are always called Syrians, and 
not Hebrews. (Gen.xxv. 20 ; xxviii. 5; xxxi. 20,24.) 
The word Heber (*Q2) signifies one from beyond, or 
one that passes through, or over. The Septuagint ren- 
ders it irepaTTj, a stranger, foreigner, or wanderer; and 
this agrees exactly with the character which the Pa- 
triarchs give of themselves, viz. that they were 
" strangers and pilgrims in the earth ; " and with the 
fact that Moses calls Canaan " the land in which 
they were strangers," " the land of their pilgrimage. 

Mraro the younger son of Arphaxad, was the ancestor of the 
Syrians, having emigrated into those regions from Kir in Iberia. In 
the Hebrew, the word translated Syrians is always Aramatam, and 
Padan-amro should therefore, for consistency's sake be rendered 
Padan-of.^na. The name Syrians or Cyrians is derived, it has been 

Thev°^i T ?J T «°\- K7r ' the place the Aram*ans came from. 
They settled in the first instance in Mesopotamia, (called in Greek 
zupia MecroiroTafiia,) but afterwards crossed the Euphrates, and 
took possession of the country between that river and the Jordan. 

2 Abram would seem also to have resided at some period or other 
at Damascus ; for he speaks of Eliezer of Damascus, his steward, as 
having been born in his house. Gen. xv. 2, 3. 


Upon quitting Mesopotamia for Canaan, Abram was 
accompanied by Lot the son of his elder brother 
Haran, who was deceased.' They pursued the occu- 
pation of shepherds; and, like the Nomadic tribes 
of those regions in the present day, they wandered 
from one station to another, according as the want of 
pasture for their flocks, or some other consideration 
of necessity or convenience, induced them to remove. 
Their manners and habits appear also, in other re- 
spects, to have been characterized by the simplicity 
of pastoral life : their wives and daughters prepared 
their food, fetched water from the well, spun wool 
and made garments ; whilst they and their sons 
tended the flocks: none thought it a degradation to 
be engaged in the useful and laborious offices of life. 

It is not certainly known what was the religious 
character of Abram previous to his call. Chaldea 
is by some supposed to have been the earliest seat of 
idolatry ; and Terah, the father of Abram, is by the 
Arabian authors asserted to have been a maker of 
images for worship and divining, after whom they 
derived the name of Teraphim. It is certain that 
Terah served other gods than Jehovah ; (Josh. xxiv. 
2.) and equally so that images, or teraphim, were, at 
a later period, used in the family of Laban, his de- 
scendant by the line of Nahor. (Gen. xxxi. 30, 34.) 

i It is evident that Abram was not the eldest son of Terah : for Terah 
is said to have begotten sons when he was 70 years old, and to have 
died at the age of 205 -, whereas Abram was only 75 years old, when 
his father died j reckoning backward from which period it is plain, 
that Terah must have been 130 years old when Abram was born, 
Compare Gen. xi. 26, 32 j xii. 4 ; and Acts vii. 4. As to the circum- 
stance of Abram being mentioned first in the enumeration of the sons 
of Terah, it is the manner of scripture to name first the most eminent. 
Thus Shem, Ham, and Japhet are enumerated as the sons of Noahj 
(Gen. x. l,) and yet, from Gen. x. 21, we learn that Japhet was the 


But whether Abram was tainted by these supersti- 
tions cannot be ascertained : he was at all events 
kept undefiled from them subsequent to his call ; and 
the Lord Jehovah became the supreme object both of 
his worship and his confidence. 

After Abram had sojourned some time in Canaan, 
the cattle of himself and nephew had, through the 
blessing of God, so prodigiously increased, as to re- 
quire a multitude of servants to look after them; 
and repeated quarrels ensued between their several 
dependants, whilst seeking water and pasture for the 
flocks of their respective masters. Abram, perceiving 
that this strife was only to be prevented by their 
separation, generously offered to Lot the choice of 
location, determining himself to remove in an oppo- 
site direction. Lot, without deferring to his uncle, 
and with a culpable disregard of the character of the 
inhabitants, fixed upon the plain of Sodom ; a choice 
which he had afterwards frequent reason to repent. 
Soon after his removal a war broke out between 
Chedorlaomer, king of Eiam, 1 supported by three 
confederate princes, and Bera, king of Sodom, who 
with four other chiefs had revolted from Chedor- 
laomer. The king of Elam, falling suddenly upon 
Bera and his allies, defeated him, plundered the 
cities of Sodom and Gomorrah, and withdrew, carry- 
ing away Lot a prisoner, and all his cattle. When 
Abram however was apprised of this event, he im- 
mediately armed those of his servants who were 
chiefly to be depended on, to the number of three 

l Some suppose Elam to be Persia, from its vicinity to "the dwellers 
in Mesopotamia," whose king, Amraphael, was leagued with Chedor- 
laomer on this occasion. Elam, the son of Arphaxad, was the father 
of the Persians. Others, however, from the direction taken by the 
troops in their retreat, suppose Elam to be Elymais. 


hundred and eighteen ; x and with those who were at 
hand of three neighbouring chiefs, confederate with 
Abram, (Mamre the Amorite, and the brothers Eshcol 
and Aner,) he pursued swiftly after them, and, sur- 
prising them by night, completely routed them, re- 
covered Lot, together with the whole of the captives 
and the spoil, and returned victorious to Mamre. 

On his way back, he was met by a personage of 
whom remarkable mention is afterwards made in 
holy writ,— Melchisedec, king of Salem or Jerusa- 
lem, 2 who united in his person the offices of king 
and priest. He brought forth bread and wine to 
refresh Abram, to Shaveh, (i.e. "the king's dale," 
supposed to be the valley of Jehoshaphat,) and hav- 
ing blessed him in the name of the God of heaven 
and earth, he received homage from Abram and a 
tithe of the spoil. Bera, the king of Sodom, grate- 
fully offered to Abram the whole of the spoil as a 
present, requiring only that the captives should be 
restored to him ; but he was met by a rare disinter- 

1 These 318 are said to have been born in his house, and therefore, 
according to the custom of those times, they were his actual property. 
He had numerous other hired servants ; and when the usual propor- 
tion of women and children come to be added, Abram must at this 
time have been lord over from 2000 to 3000 souls. 

2 Much has been written, in consequence of a remark of Jerome, to 
shew that Salem was not Jerusalem, but that by Salim is meant, the 
ancient Scythopolis. But this not only does violence to the text, by- 
assuming an error in all places in the scriptures where Salem is men- 
tioned; but it is likewise contrary to the geographical probabilities 
of the narrative. For the route of Abraham homeward from Damas- 
cus or Hobah to Mamre (and not to Sodom, as some erroneously state) 
would lead him close by the spot where Jerusalem was afterwards 
built, whilst it would not lead him by Scythopolis. The coincidence 
also of the style or title of the princes of Salem, in the time of Abra- 
ham, with those of the princes of Jebus, (which was the same place,) 
in the time of Joshua, appears conclusive ; the one being Melech-zedec, 
or " King of righteousness," and the other Adoni-zedec, which is Lord 
or "Prince of righteousness." 


estedness and zeal for the honour of God on the part 
of Abram, who replied to him, " I have lift up mine 
hand unto the Lord, the most high God, the possessor 
of heaven and earth, that I will not take from a thread 
even to a shoe-latchet; nor will I take any thing of 
thine, lest thou shouldst say, * / have made Abram 
rich ; ' save only that which the young men have 
eaten, and the portion of the men which went with 
me, Aner, Eshcol and Manure." 

[a.m. 2093.] The faith of Abram was, nevertheless, 
much exercised, from the circumstance, that after ten 
years of wandering he still went childless, notwith- 
standing the promise of a seed. God, therefore, by 
way of confirming him in the assurance both of the 
seed and of the land, formally covenanted with him, 
after a remarkable manner. He was directed to take 
an heifer, a she-goat, and a ram, each of three years 
old, with a turtle-dove and a young pigeon. These 
he divided asunder, (excepting the birds) and placed 
the one half of each opposite to the other half, leav- 
ing a passage between. And at sun-set a supernatu- 
ral sleep and horror of great darkness fell upon 
Abram, and he beheld the symbol of God's presence, 
resembling a smoking furnace, and a burning lamp 
passing between the pieces. 1 

Besides the renewal of the promise of the land at 
this time, God also gave to Abram some important 
information concerning the possession of it. He de- 
clared to him that his seed must previously be af- 
flicted for a long period in a strange land ; the reason 
assigned for which delay was, " that the iniquity of 

i It became afterwards common, both among the posterity of Abram 
and the heathen, to pass through the divided victims when they made 
a covenant, examples of which may be seen in Homer, &c. (See 
Grotius on Matt. xxvi. 28.) 


the Amorites was not yet full," This declaration is 
worthy of particular remark, in a political point of 
view ; for we shall find it to be the principle upon 
which the Lord invariably acts, when he devotes a 
people to destruction. Though their sins and their 
apostacy provoke him to execute wrath upon them, he 
will nevertheless have their character unequivocally 
manifested before he actually strikes. They are con- 
sequently left to become obdurate ; the restraints im- 
posed by his providence are more or less removed, 
to afford scope for the full developement of their evil 
principles and natural depravity ; and thus they may 
be centuries even filling up the measure of their ini- 
quity, though in the appointed season they become 
ripe for judgment, and the wrath follows. 

This appears to be a suitable place for some inquiry 
into the history of those nations, whose land was now 
covenanted to Abram, and on whom his descendants 
were to be the instruments of vengeance. 

The reader of scripture will remember, that when 
Noah had planted a vineyard, and made wine, and 
from inexperience of its potency had drank thereof 
to intoxication, Ham, his son, was guilty of some 
gross misconduct toward him, which brought upon 
himself a curse. Berosus, the Chaldean, gives larger 
particulars of the transgression of Ham at this time, 
than are recorded in Genesis ,• stating that he had a 
particular enmity towards his parent, and that from 
his generally abandoned and sensual conduct he 
obtained the surname of Essenuus, which signifies 
infamous and obscene.* His son Canaan was evi- 

1 Noah was the Uranus of the Greeks and Romans, and Ham the 
Saturn. The classical reader will be aware what Saturn is reported 
by the ancients to have done to his father, Uranus. 


dently present at the period mentioned, and seems 
| to have been a criminal participator in his father's 
I conduct, and to have transmitted all his lewd and 
f profligate qualities to his descendants. In fact the 
I curse, as narrated in Genesis, is directed more espe- 
cially against Canaan ; from which it is highly prob- 
able that he was a prominent actor on that occasion. 
At the dispersion of the sons of Noah, Ham went 
! south-west, locating his offspring in various regions ; 
| and at length he entered Palestine with his son 
Canaan and his children, who occupied various por- 
tions of the region which extends from Lebanon to 
the Red Sea. 1 

The whole country was generally called Canaan, 
from its being thus inhabited by tribes who were de- 
scended from his sons or grandsons. 2 At the same 
time it is evident, — from the circumstance of the 
Canaanites being often mentioned, as distinct from, 
and in addition to, these tribes, (see Exod. iii. 8. Josh. 
xi. 1 — 4,) — that there was some part of this coun- 

1 It is supposed he entered Palestine at Hamath, a region of Mount 
Lebanon, and which is several times in scripture called "the entering 
in of Hamath." Judges iii. 3, &c. One of his grandsons was called 

2 These nations are variously enumerated in different passages of 
scripture, according as they are spoken of with reference to their 
larger divisions, or their subdivisions; some tribes being at certain 
periods included in others, by conquest or otherwise, and going by 
their name for the time. (Compare Gen. xv. Ex. iii. Deut. vii. and 
Josh, xi — xiii ) They are the Canaanites, from Canaan; the Amorites, 
from Amor or Emor; the Hivites, from Iva; the Sidonians, from 
Sidon ; the Hittites, from Heth ; the Jebusites, from Jebus ; the Gir- 
gashites, from Girgash ; the Hamathites, from Hamath. These were 
sons or descendants of Canaan. To these are to be added the Periz- 
zites, the Rephaim, the Kenites, the Kenizzites, the Kadmonites, Ar- 
vadites, &c. They are as frequently termed Amorites as Canaanites, 
when spoken of together, that being one of the most powerful of the 
tribes. See Gen. xv. 16; xlviii. 22. Dent. xx. 17. Josh. x. 12; xxiv. 
15, &c. 


try more properly called Canaan. This is with 
good reason concluded to be that where Canaan him- 
self settled, and to whom the other kings were tribu- 
tary ; and was the region stretching from Sidon 
on the north, and the Mediterranean on the west, to 
the Jordan, called also Syro-phenicia, the inhabitants 
of which were, even in our Lord's time, called C«- 
naanites. (Matt. xv. 22.) The name Palestine, after- 
wards given to the country, was derived from the 
Philistim, or Philistines, who were descended from 
Ham through his son Mizraim. 1 

[a.m. 2094.] Notwithstanding the renewal of the 
promise to Abram, the medium through which it was 
to be accomplished was not yet understood; and 
Sarah, perceiving herself to be now arrived beyond 
the period of childbearing, without having had the 
promise fulfilled through her, proposed to give her 
maid Hagar to Abram. The damsels given to women 
of rank and consideration in those times, generally 
at their marriage, were so entirely their own pro- 
perty, that they had the absolute disposal of their per- 
sons; and the children which they bore were con- 

1 His son's name was Metsir, or rather Mizor, from whom came the 
Mizraim, or Egyptians. And from Peles, a grandson of Metsir, came 
the Philistim. He is called in Plutarch (de Isid and Osir) Pelusius 
and Palestinus. The Philistim were also in part descended from 
Caphtor, an uncle of Peles, whence Jeremiah calls them "the rem- 
nant of Caphtor, " (chap, xlvii. 4,) but they passed more commonly 
under the name of Philistim. Brown derives the term Cherethites from 
Caphtor, and says they were Philistines, (Diet.) They are indeed 
mentioned as a people of Philistia in Sam. xxx. 14, and Zephaniah 
probably speaks of the same, chap. ii. 5. The Pelethites were also 
Philistines, and as evidently from Peles. Cruden derives the former 
name from a Hebrew word signifying to cut or destroy, and the latter 
from a word which signifies to divide or slay : but it is more probable 
that these words derived their meaning from the Cherethites and Pe- 
lethites, who were employed at a later period of Hebrew history as 
life guards and executioners, just as the word assassinate is said to be 
derived from the Arsacidce. 


sidered as belonging to the mistress. Abram con- 
curred in the proposal, and the issue was a son born 
to him in his eighty-sixth year, whom he named Ish- 
rnael. An angel of God appeared to his mother just 
before Ishmael was born, who foretold to her, that the 
son whom she was about to bring forth should be a wild 
man; his hand againstevery man, and every man's hand 
against him; that he should dwell in the presence of 
all his brethren ; and that God would, through hira, 
so exceedingly multiply her seed, that it should not 
be numbered for multitude. And among the wonders 
of prophecy, as avouched by history, is the continued 
existence of the posterity of Ishmael, bearing the 
precise character here attached to them. One of the 
most powerful of the Arabian tribes sprang from Ish- 
mael, and from him were called Ishmaelites. They 
have ever been a roving people of the desert, plun- 
dering individuals and tribes whenever opportunity 
has offered, and frequently attacked also by their 
neighbours, who have considered them no better than 
robbers. 1 

[a.m. 2106.] The erroneous impression of Abram, 

l The Ishmaelites are likewise called Hagarenes in the sacred 
volume, after their mother Hagar ; though in later times numbers of 
them were ambitious of being considered the progeny of Sarah, and 
from her called themselves Saracens. Others derive the term Sara- 
cen from the Arabic saralt, to plunder, though the word may in this 
case, as in that of the Cherethites and Pelethites, be rather derived 
from the people. The Arabian tribes are often confounded in the 
sacred volume, arising from the same cause noticed in regard to the 
descendants of Canaan ; viz., from the one people having possessed 
temporary dominion over the other, so as that the vanquished are 
spoken of by the name of the victors ; and sometimes also because 
two tribes have been confederated together for political objects, and 
both have then been referred to under the name of the more powerful 
one ; even as in later times the Jewish tribe of Benjamin went in 
general under the common name of Jews, from its union with Judah. 
For example, the Ishmaelites are sometimes called Midianites, though 
the latter were in reality the descendants of Abraham by Keturah, his 


in regard to Ishmael's being the promised seed, was 
not corrected until about twelve years after his birth ; 
when the Almighty vouchsafed another manifestation 
of himself, the circumstances of which were again 
particularly remarkable. He is given to understand 
that Sarah, though now arrived at the ninetieth year 
of her age, shall nevertheless still conceive a son, at 
about that same season in the next year; and Abram 
is directed to call this child Isaac, because he laughed 
in himself, not through unbelief, but with joy and 
amazement at the promise, which he implicitly be- 
lieved. He is further directed to change his name, 
in token of the accomplishment of this promise, from 
Abram to Abraham, and that of Sarai to Sarah. 1 And 
God at the same time institutes the rite of circum- 
cision, which he commands Abraham to carry into 
effect with every male of his household, declaring that^ 
those who should not be circumcised should be cut 
off from his people. This rite of circumcision was 

second wife, and not by Hagar. From these the Ishmaelites are dis- 
tinguished, at the same time that they are called Midianites, by the 
circumstance of their wearing golden earrings, and by the collars, 
purple and. peculiar ornaments of their princes. The Ishmaelites and 
the Amalekites are also spoken of sometimes as one. For in Gen. 
xxv. 17, 18, the Ishmaelites are located " from Havilah unto Shur that 
is before Egypt ; " whilst in l Sam. xv. 7. Saul is said to have smitten 
the Amalekites in those regions. (See also Judges vi. 33.) Further, 
in Numbers xxii. 3, 4 ; and xxv. 1, 17. the Moabites and Midianites are 
spoken of as if one and the same ; but it arises from the temporary 
lordship of the Moabites over them. And again, in l Chron. v. 18— 
24, these same Midianites, whose land became the inheritance of the 
half tribe of Manasseh, are called Hagarenes, Hagarites. 

1 Names were sometimes historical memorials, as in the case of 
Isaac; and at others, prophetical assurances of the events foretold. 
In this instance ^S ab signifies father, and CD*} rom or ram is high; 
and the insertion of the pf is thought to be a contraction of 
"P^H hamon, a multitude, as if AbraMm for Abrahamon. Sarai sig- 
nified "my princess; " Sarah is " the princess," in relation to the 
promise to her, that kings of people should be of her. 


intended as God's seal to the righteousness of Abra- 
ham's faith : and likewise as a further token and 
pledge of the assured fulfilment of the entire of God's 
if covenant promises in their due season. 
} A few months after this, another and a greater cala- 

mity overtook Lot, which terminates his history, so 
far as he is personally introduced. Sodom or Go- 
morrah were not warned by the recent chastisement 
they had received from Chedorlaomer. The inha- 
bitants of those and of the neighbouring cities are 
ij described, as having become already " wicked and 
} sinners before the Lord exceedingly ;" and having thus 
\ filled up the measure of their iniquity, God now pro- 
] ceeds to inflict upon them a signal punishment. He 
I first however, in great compassion to Abram and 
\ Lot, sent his angels to deliver the latter from the im- 
( pending destruction ; who was also directed to go 
I and warn all of his kindred, that the Lord was about 
j to overthrow the city. But even the married sons 
I and daughters of Lot had become so infected with 
the prevailing worldliness, that they treated the an- 
nouncement as a mockery ; and Lot with his wife 
j and two single daughters only were on the following 
morning led forth by the angels from Sodom, and 
charged to flee to the neighbouring mountain without 
looking back. The sunrise of that day is recorded ; 
I the guilty inhabitants of the cities of the plain were 
I in motion, and going forth to their usual labour, re- 
} gardless of their Creator, and without suspicion of 
the awful catastrophe at hand : when suddenly the 
heavens were overcast, a torrent of fire and brim- 
stone was rained down upon them, and before that 


sun declined the busy hum of life was changed into 
the awful stillness of the desert. 1 

The wife of Lot disobeyed the injunctions of the 
angel, and met with the same fate as his married 
children. Lot was likewise stripped by this visitation 
of all his possessions in cattle; and we know nothing 
of him subsequently, except that he retired to a cave 
with his two daughters, by whom, through a device 
of theirs, which savoured greatly of the principles of 
Sodom, he had two sons, Moab and Ammon. These 
afterwards proved malignant enemies of Abraham's 
seed. 2 

[a.m. 2108 to 2138.] At length the time of pro- 
mise came round, and, according to the word of 
God, Sarah presented Abraham with a son, when 
he was now about a hundred years old. But when 
Isaac, the child in question, had attained the age 
of thirty years, there followed the severest trial to 
the faith of Abraham ; — perhaps the most severe 

1 The vale of Sodom is now overflowed with water, called the lake 
Asphaltites and the Dead Sea. Travellers have differed in some par- 
ticulars in regard to its phenomena, according as their observations 
have been made with more or less of carefulness and intelligence. 
The following however have been clearly ascertained -, viz: that bitu- 
minous masses are at some seasons found upon its waters j that they 
are nauseous to the taste ; that no fish or insect apparently lives in 
them ; that they are so heavy and buoyant that persons wading in 
out of their depth have found it impossible to sink in them ; and that 
the whole region round about is desolate and forbidding. Maundrell 
and other travellers assert that there are still the remains of walls 
and palaces to be observed in the Dead Sea ; and Strabo gives a cir- 
cumference of 60 stadia to the ruins of Sodom, as remaining in his 
time j which are likewise mentioned by Tacitus. See Chateau- 
briand's Travels in Greece and Palestine, vol. i. p. 401. 

2Josephus makes excuse for Lot's daughters, that they thought 
themselves the only persons left alive on the earth besides their 
father ; for which supposition, indeed, there is some foundation in 
Gen. xix. 31. And it is remarkable also, that Lot appears to have 
made no effort to repair to Abraham after this disaster j whilst Abra- 
ham, on his part, appears to have concluded that his nephew was 


ever experienced by any fallen human being. God 
directed him to take this, his only son, and to offer 
him up as a burnt-offering upon Mount Moriah, 
which was about three days' journey from where he 
was resident. Painful must have been the con- 
flict in the mind of Abraham. The special promise 
of God had been, that through the line of Isaac a 
numerous offspring should proceed; and especially 
that pre-eminent Seed, in whom all nations should be 
blessed. Hitherto he had found God to be gracious 
and merciful, and abundant in goodness and truth ; 
but here was a command apparently cruel in itself, 
and directly at variance with the promises made to 
him. But as Abraham staggered not at the natural 
circumstances, which were, in the first instance, in the 
way of the accomplishment of the promise that he 
should have a child, so now he scrupled not impli- 
citly to obey the direction to offer that child ; being 
equally assured that God, who gave him this son 
by miracle, would restore him also by a miracle, 
even by a resurrection from the dead. (Heb. xi. 19.) 
In this persuasion he journeyed to Mount Moriah ; 
and we hardly know r which most to admire, the calm 
confidence of the father in the goodness and power of 
God, notwithstanding this trying demand of him ; or 
the pious resignation and filial obedience of the son, 
who willingly submitted to be bound and laid upon 
the pile. Just however as Abraham was about to 
slay Isaac, he was prevented by a voice from hea- 
ven ; and directed to offer as a substitute a ram, 
caught in the same moment by the horns in an ad- 
joining thicket. Thus was shadowed forth, in that 
early period, the offering up of the only beloved of 
the Father,— that Seed of whom Isaac was the type 


and earnest ; and a promise was given " that in that 
mount the Lord should be seen." 1 

This transaction, more than any other, procured 
for Abraham the exalted honour to be called "the 
father of the faithful ;" being not only the great 
head, with whom the covenant with the faithful was 
made; but the pattern and example also to them that 
believe, who are called upon to exhibit a faith of the 
same nature, or, in other words, " to walk in the 
steps of the faith of their father Abraham/' (Rom. iv. 
12.) On this occasion also the Lord gave his testi- 
mony : " Now I know that thou fearest God, seeing 
thou hast not withheld thy son, thine only son, from 
me."- Not that the great Searcher of hearts needed 
any proof of this ; but because he would have an un- 
deniable testimony of it set before his church. For 
what God, after the manner of scripture, is said to 
search, or inquire into, or to prove, is necessarily 
known before to him ; and the inquiry or proof is 
consequently intended for the instruction and satis- 
faction either of the parties themselves, or of his 
people in general. 

[a.m. 2145 to 2183.] After the above striking event 
in the IUq of Abraham, there is nothing of particular 
interest in his remaining history. One of his last acts 
was to procure a wife for his son Isaac from among his 
own kindred, dreading the polluted morals of the 
people among whom he dwelt. By a remarkable pro- 

i It is agreed by all critics that the words of Gen. xxii. 14, " In the 
mount of the Lord it shall "be seen," ought to he translated, " In the 
mount (or this mount) the Lord will appear." Abraham also called 
the name of that place " Jehovali-Jireh," which signifies, " The Lord 
will provide," referring apparently to the earnest given by the ram 
caught in the thicket, that God would provide himself a lamb for a 
burnt- offering. 


vidence, Eliezer, the servant of Abraham, whom he 
entrusted with this commission, was led to the house 
of Abraham's brother Nahor, and brought back from 
thence his daughter Rebekah, to whom Isaac was 
united, when he was now forty years of age. Abra- 
ham next, in order to prevent disputes after his de- 
cease, portioned all his children by his second wife, 
(for Sarah had died soon after Isaac's birth,) and 
sent them away to distant places during his life- 
time : and having thus settled his affairs, he died at 
the age of 175 years, and was buried with Sarah in 
a cave at Machpelah before Mamre. 

Thus terminates the history of this truly great man, 
who, through the wonderful simplicity and strength of 
his faith, has acquired a more real and permanent glory 
than any other of the fallen sons of Adam. We have 
seen that, under trials of a most severe and stagger- 
ing character, he nevertheless so entirely confided in 
the truth of God that he never faltered. He lived 
during an entire century in a land which was pro- 
mised to him, as well as to his seed; continuing 
throughout that period as a mere pilgrim or Hebrew 
in it, without becoming possessor of so much terri- 
tory as to set his foot on, excepting the small spot 
purchased for a burial-place: yet looking neverthe- 
less stedfastly forward to the city that shall have 
foundations ; persuaded that the God who promised 
cannot lie, and will hereafter raise him up to fulfil 
unto him and to his seed all that he has covenanted 
to perform. He is specially praised in holy writ for 
" keeping the charge of God; " by which is under- 
stood the commandments and appointed worship 
and rites of Jehovah ; and wheresoever he sojourned 
— whether in the region of Sichem, in the mountain 


by Bethel, the plain of Mamre, the country of Gerar, 
or the well of Beersheba, he constantly erected an 
altar for devotion, and there called upon the name of 
his God. 1 He is likewise praised for enforcing upon 
his children and dependants the same worship and 
obedience to God which he practised himself. This 
is mentioned as a reason why God would make of him 
a great and mighty nation — " For I know him, that he 
will command his children and his household after 
him, and they shall keep the way of the Lord, to do 
justice and judgment, that the Lord may bring upon 
Abraham that which he hath spoken : " which de- 
claration contains in it therefore the elements of 
good and righteous government; an intimation of 
what are the most important qualifications of rulers ; 
and also of the character of that kingdom which the 
Lord hereafter purposes to establish in the earth, 
when all nations shall be blessed. 

ISAAC— [a.m. 2183 to 2245.] Isaac proved to be 
a child of grace, as well as of promise ; and to him 
the Lord frequently manifested himself, and renewed 
and amplified the promises given to Abraham. The 
evidence of divine grace in him has already been 
seen, in his ready subjection to the will of God and 
of his father on Mount Moriah : but the scriptures 
likewise, with their usual impartiality, faithfully re- 
cord the failings and infirmities of the saints; and 
these are often intimately connected, as in the present 
instance, with the history before us. 

Isaac had two sons by Rebekah, Esau and Jacob, 

1 At Beersheba lie is paid to Lave planted a grove, and there to have 
called upon the name of his God : which shows that groves were not 
at this period liccessaiily prostituted to purposes of idolatry. Gen, xxi. 


who were twins, born within a few hours of each 
other, Esau being the eldest. God however had at 
their birth expressly declared that the eldest should 
serve the youngest; and though Isaac knew this, yet 
through that admixture of prejudice, which often is 
found to alloy the faith and obedience even of good 
men, he set himself to prevent or frustrate God's ap- 
pointment. Esau appears to have been the favourite 
of his father, and for a reason not very credit- 
able to the spirituality of the latter: Isaac loved 
venison, and Esau being a skilful hunter frequently 
supplied him with this dainty. Jacob, on the con- 
trary, was the favourite of his mother ; the conse- 
quence of which partialities was, in the end, much 
strife and distress in the family of Isaac. 

Jacob, when he came to understand the prophecy 
going before upon him, was impatient to see the will 
of God accomplished; and as his father had indi- 
cated no intention as yet of diverting the birthright 
from the usual course of primogeniture, but the con- 
trary, he took advantage of Esau's coming weary into 
his tent from hunting, and desiring to partake of 
some particular food which he was preparing, to de- 
mand of Esau, in consideration thereof, that he 
should sell him his birthright: certainly a most un- 
brotherly and inhospitable condition. Esau how- 
ever, being profanely indifferent or unbelieving in 
regard to the birthright, made it over to Jacob. 1 

1 It has been much, discussed, in what consisted the birthright 
which Esau covenanted to sell. The following passage in l Chron. 
v. l, 2, evidently relates to it; hut even with this light, I confess the 
matter is obscure to my own mind. " Reuben was the first-born ; 
but forasmuch as he denied his father's bed, his birthright was given 
unto the sons of Joseph the son of Israel ; and the genealogy is not 
to be reckoned after the birthright. For Judah prevailed among his 
brethren, and of him the chief ruler ; but the birthright was 


An important endowment, enjoyed by all the early 
patriarchs, must here be noticed, viz. the gift of pro- 
phecy; which gift was specially exercised in their 
final blessings. Isaac therefore, finding himself be- 
coming now nearly blind from age, and supposing his 
end to be approaching, resolved without further delay 
to confer the blessing upon Esau, which would en- 
title him to all the rights and superiority of primo- 
genitureship ; and thus to settle his family affairs. 
He determined however to have a feast of venison on 
the occasion, and therefore directed Esau to go and 
procure some, and to make savoury meat of it ; de- 
claring that after he had partaken of it he would 
bless him. 

Rebekah overheard the direction of Isaac to Esau, 
and forgetting that God can accomplish his will 
when he sees proper, notwithstanding any seeming 
extremities to which he may be reduced, she never- 
theless hastened at this crisis to seize the promise, 
by an artifice equally blameable as her husband's 
neglect. She directed Jacob immediately to fetch 
her two kids, the flesh of which she so prepared as to 
imitate the expected venison; and covering Jacob's 
neck and arms with the skins of the kids, that he 
might feel like his brother, who was a hairy man, 
she sent him in to Isaac with the savoury meat, direct- 
ing him to feign himself Esau. Isaac was startled 
by the voice, and surprized at the speedy return of 
the supposed Esau; which Jacob accounted for by 
falsehood and hypocrisy, declaring that the animal 
was brought to him by a special providence of God ; 

Joseph's." Lordship over his brethren appears to be the birthright 
from the above. It may be that Esau had no faith, that the promises 
of God would ever be performed. 


upon which Isaac, imposed upon by the hairy cover- 
ing and the repeated protestations of Jacob, eat of his 
meat, and afterwards blessed him, prophetically con- 
firming the early prediction, that he should be lord 
over his brethren, and that his mother's sons should 
bow down to him. Upon Esau's return the fraud was 
of course discovered. Isaac trembled exceedingly, 
when he perceived how God had overruled him : it 
was contrary to his fond wishes and intentions ; but 
he knew at the same time that he had uttered the 
blessing by the Spirit of God, and that it could not 
be reversed. 

The consequence of Esau's being thus overreached 
was a vehement hatred conceived by him against 
his brother; and he not only resolved, as soon as his 
father should die, to kill him, but openly spake of 
his intention before others, who reported it to Re- 
bekah. Fertile in invention, she has an expedient 
immediately at hand. Esau had disobeyed the 
wishes of his parents by marrying two wives, 
daughters of the Canaanites, against which step 
Abraham had so strictly charged Isaac. 1 Rachel 
avails herself of this circumstance, as a pretence for 
sending Jacob away, hoping that in the meanwhile 
his brother's anger may abate. She declares to 
Isaac how weary she is of the conduct of Esau's 
wives, and how distressed she should be if Jacob 
were to imitate his brother's example; and Isaac, 
concurring with her, sends Jacob at once to Padan 
Aram, to get a wife among his relatives. 

l The murderous intentions of Esau toward his brother, and these 
profane and disobedient marriages with the Canaanites, are additi- 
onal proofs of his wickedness : though afterwards, when he saw that 
his wives gave umbrage to his parents, he married a daughter of 

22 HISTORY OF THE jews: 

The consequences of the events just related, in the 
way of chastisement, are instructive. Had Isaac 
simply followed the voice of God respecting his sons, 
the expectations of Esau would not have been unduly 
excited, and Isaac would have been spared witnessing 
the dissension which his own conduct was the means 
of introducing into his family* Rebekah, in conse- 
quence of the part she acted in this matter, suffered 
great anxiety and alarm on account of Jacob, through 
fear of violence from his brother ; and after she had 
contrived for him what she intended should be only a 
temporary refuge, she never was permitted to see 
this her favourite son again ; for she died during his 
long absence. And as for Jacob, he had to quit his 
father's house more in the character of an eiLile than 
a son, being likewise in fear for his life; and he 
suffered a bondage of twenty years duration, of which 
he himself declares, that during it the drought con- 
sumed him by day and the frost by night, and sleep 
departed from his eyes. 

JACOB.— [a.m. 2245.] Departing from Beersheba 
for Haran, Jacob slept on the first night in the open 
field, having the skies for his canopy and the stones 
of the place for his pillow. Here, in the visions of 
the night, God manifested himself to him, renewed 
and confirmed with him the covenant made with 
Abraham and Isaac, and gave him promise of pro- 
tection and safe return. It is worthy of special 
notice, in the renewal of this covenant, that God 
makes promise, with regard to the Seed, in almost 
the same terms that he did to his grandfather Abra- 
ham : " in thee, and in thy seed, shall all the families 
of the earth be blessed." The seed appeared, in the 


first instance, to be Isaac, who was the father of Jacob 
and the child promised to Abraham ; but here, in a 
later generation, the promise is still suspended; 
shewing that Isaac was but an earnest and type of 
that Seed, through whom the great blessing was ulti- 
mately to be accomplished. Jacob was filled with 
awe at the vision, and setting up the stone which 
had been his pillow, as a memorial and an altar to 
God, he poured oil upon it, and vowed to dedicate 
unto God the tenth of whatsoever he should bless him 
with. This fact shows the early use of oil for reli- 
gious purposes; whilst the circumstance of Jacob 
being provided with it in his flight, looks as if habits 
of piety were already fixed in him. 1 

On the arrival of Jacob at Haran he was cordially 
welcomed by his mother's brother, Laban, a subtle 
and covetous person, who, perceiving that Jacob was 
a skilful shepherd, proposed at the month's end to 
give him regular wages for his hire ; but Jacob, having 
become enamoured of Laban's daughter, Rachel, en- 
gaged to serve seven years, on condition of having her 
for his wife at the end of it. The time being expired, 
Jacob demanded Rachel, in which demand her father 
seemingly acquiesced, and the customary festivities 
were prepared ; but in the evening of the wedding-day 
the crafty Laban substituted Leah, his elder daugh- 
ter, in the place of Rachel. The fraud was not dis- 

1 The practice of erecting a stone as a memorial is mentioned, 
without any mark of disapprobation, at so late a period as Isaiah ; 
(chap. xix. 19, 20.) though the heathen abused the practice, as they 
did other things, to superstitious ends. It appears from Arnobius, 
who lived about 330 years after Christ, to have been continued by 
them to his times 3 for he says, "that when he was a heathen, he 
never saw a stone which had the marks of oil having been poured on 
it, that he did not regard it as something divine, and offer up his 
prayers to it as such."— Cont. Gent. i. 1. 


covered until the morrow ; when Jacob, who had so 
recently overreached a brother, must have felt little 
entitled to complain, now that he was imposed upon 
himself. Laban alleged that it was contrary to the 
custom of the Syrians to give the younger in mar- 
riage before the elder; but promised, that if Jacob 
would fulfil the usual week of ceremonial and festi- 
vity for Leah, he would at the expiration of it give 
him Rachel likewise; conditionally however, that 
he afterwards served him another seven years. To 
this Jacob consented, and at the end of another week 
was the husband of two wives, being the first of the 
pious patriarchs who practised polygamy ; and he, it 
would appear, only in consequence of the trick that 
had been practised upon him. 

[a.m. 2259.] At the end of the fourteen years, 
Laban was still unwilling to part with the services 
of his nephew ; his flocks having in the meanwhile 
prodigiously increased. Jacob however was now be- 
ginning to be surrounded with children, and therefore 
desirous to provide for his own family ; but he never- 
theless engaged to continue his services, on condition 
that thenceforward a certain portion of the young of 
the cattle should be his. God now manifestly blessed 
the portion of Jacob ; and though Laban from time to 
time arbitrarily and unjustly altered the agreement, 
God nevertheless as repeatedly frustrated his purpose, 
until the chief portion of the cattle were at length the 
property of Jacob. The jealousy and envy of Laban 
and his sons toward Jacob were greatly excited by 
these circumstances, and their whole conduct and 
countenance were now altered; perceiving which, 
and being warned of God, Jacob resolved at length 
to return to Beersheba ; having the concurrence also 


of his wives, who likewise complained of the grasp- 
ing character of their father in regard to their own 
dowry, of which he had deprived them. 

[a.m.2265.] Jacob departed clandestinely, (choos- 
ing the opportunity when Laban was engaged in 
sheep-shearing,) and had got three days in advance, 
together with his wives, children and cattle, when 
Laban discovered that he had fled, and in great 
wrath pursued after him with the men of his house- 
hold. He overtook him on the seventh day in Mount 
Giiead ; but being warned of God, he entered into a 
covenant of peace with him, and returned. 

But another and a greater cause for disquietude 
now presented itself to Jacob. He was informed 
that his brother Esau, to avoid whose murderous in- 
tentions he had fled twenty years before, had learned 
the news of his approach, and was coming against 
him with a troop of 400 men. Jacob divided his 
company and flocks into two bands, and strictly 
charged them, that if the one should be attacked, the 
other should endeavour to make its escape. He 
next sent forward a considerable present, for the 
purpose of appeasing Esau, consisting of 580 head 
of cattle,— camels, kine, asses, sheep and goats,— 
each in a separate drove, with an interval between, 
that they might meet Esau successively; and the 
drivers were instructed to inform him, when he in- 
quired whose they were, that they were a present to 
" his lord Esau from his servant Jacob ;"— thus indi- 
cating, that however he might have been declared 
prophetically to be lord over Esau, he had no inten- 
tion of asserting such a lordship by carnal weapons 
or by physical force. On moving forward himself, 
he farther disposed of his wives and children in dif- 


ferent troops, putting the handmaids of Rachel and 
Leah, and the children which he had by them, in 
the two first divisions; Leah and her children in the 
third; and Rachel with her son Joseph in the last: 
so that in proportion as they were most valued and 
beloved, they might have the greater likelihood of 
warning of any hostile intention on the part of Esau, 
and consequently a better opportunity of escape. 

But though Jacob deemed it proper thus to exer- 
cise the discretion which God had given him, he had 
nevertheless learned how entirely he was in the hands 
of the Lord, and that the safety of his family depended 
upon his favour. He therefore turns to God with 
earnest prayer; and another vision of an extraor- 
dinary character is mercifully granted to him. Al- 
ready had a company of angels met him in the 
way; but we are not informed of the special ob- 
ject of their manifestation to him : but on this night, 
when he was left alone, there appeared to him one 
in human form, with whom he had mighty spi- 
ritual wrestlings until break of day, when he pre- 
vailed with him. This celestial personage however 
took care to let him know, that he had in reality no 
power at all to prevail, unless it were given to him 
from above ; for in order to afford Jacob a specimen 
of his might, before he yielded to him he touched 
with his hand the hollow of Jacob's thigh, and imme- 
diately it shrank, and he halted or limped in his gait. 
The memorial of this remarkable transaction has ever 
since been kept up among his descendants ; in that 
no Jew eats of the sinew in the hollow of the thigh of 
any animal. On this occasion also his name was 
changed ; or rather the surname of Israel was given to 
him, because " as a prince he had power with God, 


and prevailed/' which the name signifies; and after 
this period he is more frequently referred to as the 
ancestor of the Lord's people than Abraham; and the 
nation is often collectively called after him " Israel" 
and " Jacob. " 

The inquiry is here suggested, Who was the person 
who so frequently appeared in human or angelic form 
to the patriarchs, and who assumes the prerogative 
of deity ? We are expressly informed, in divine writ, 
that no man hath at any time seen the Father. (John 
i. 18.) It must therefore have been a manifestation 
of some other person of the Trinity; and the testimony 
of the earliest Hebrew paraphrasts and commentators 
is unanimous as to its being the Word, or Aoyos, who 
thus, previous to his incarnation, is concerned for the 
children of men and especially for his church. The 
Targum of Onkelos says on Ex. xiv. 22, " It is the 
Word on whom Israel believed, as well as in Moses;" 
on Ex. xv. 2, " It is the Word that redeemed Israel 
out of Egypt ;" and on Ex. xxx. 6, " It is the Word 
whose presence is promised in the tabernacle." On 
Numb. xiv. 9, and xx. 24, it declares, " It is the 
Word whom Moses exhorts the people not to rebel 
against." On Deut. v. 5, it declares that Moses was 
mediator between the Word and his people ; and on 
Deut. xxxiii. 27, that the Word created the world, 
The Jerusalem Targum says, " The Word of the 
Lord hath appeared on three remarkable occasions : 
first, at the creation of the world ; secondly, to Abra- 
ham ; thirdly, at Israel's departure out of Egypt ; 
and a fourth time he shall appear at the coming of 
Messiah." " The Word talks with Moses in the taber- 
nacle and the people worship him." (Ex. xxxiii. 9, 1 1.) 
" The Word shall judge the people." (Deut. xxxii. 


36.) " The Word says of himself, that he was, and 
is, and is to come/' (Deut. v. 32, 39.) The Targum of 
Uziel, supposed to be written during the captivity at 
Babylon, says, "The Word went down with Jacob 
into Egypt/' (Gen. xlvi. 1, 4.) « The Word sits on 
a high throne, and hears the prayers of his people." 
Deut. iv. 7.' (See Hirschfield's Strictures, p. 78, &c.) 
To return however to the history of Jacob, the 
next morning he moved onward himself, and pre- 
sently came in sight of his brother. He approached 
Esau with the lowliness of eastern homage, bowing, 
or rather prostrating himself, repeatedly to the ground. 
And now it is apparent that his prayer had prevailed ; 
for the Lord so wrought upon the natural affection of 
Esau, that he, who came forth with a little army appa- 
rently to smite, runs instead and falls upon the neck 
of his brother and kisses him and weeps. A tone of 
habitual piety is observable in Jacob's discourse with 
Esau on this occasion, well calculated to edify the 
latter. Does Esau inquire after the little ones?— 
" They are the children which God hath graciously 
given thy servant." Or is it the cattle ?-Jaeob as- 
cribes his ability to make so munificent a present to 
Esau, " because God had dealt graciously with him." 
Directly and indirectly the Lord is now acknowledged 
in all his ways, and that faithful covenant God mer- 
cifully directs his paths. 

Various circumstances however evince that Jacob, 

i The first mention of this personage under the title of the Word 

Xrr A hT iS XV> l ' " ***<*«* «**» »>e Wokd of Jen" 
vah came to Abraham m a vision." It is also the first time that the 
mode of manifestation by vision is mentioned. In verse 4, the word 
came is supplied not being in the original: the verb supplied ought 

H^unto^ h?m*»° r """*' At ^ 7 tt * S ° «*"»*-« And 


notwithstanding this reconciliation, regarded his bro- 
ther with uneasiness. The acceptance of a present 
was, and continues to be with the eastern nations, the 
pledge of amity and protection : a present refused or 
left in abeyance betrays a lurking feeling of hostility. 
Esau at first declined the offering of Jacob. The 
reason which he assigned for so doing was probably 
the real one, viz. that he had enough ; but Jacob, 
as if doubtful how long this kindly disposition may 
continue, urges the present upon Esau, who at length 
accepts it. Esau then proposes that they shall return 
together; but Jacob pleads that the children and the 
young cattle would not be able to keep up with them. 
And when Esau next offers to leave some of his men 
with Jacob, the ambiguous answer is, " What needeth 
it?— Let me find grace in the sight of my Lord/' Esau 
then returned to Seir; but Jacob, instead of follow- 
ing thither, sojourned for some time at a place which 
he called Succoth; and finally took up his abode at 
Shalem, in the region of Shechem, where he like- 
wise bought a small piece of land of the children of 
Hamor, and erected an altar to God. 

Whilst sojourning near Shechem, an event occurred 
which threatened consequences more disastrous to 
Jacob and his family, than those which he had ap- 
prehended from Esau. It originated in a culpable* 
indiscretion of Jacob, who permitted his only daugh- 
ter, Dinah, to go unprotected to visit the females of 
that region. Even in a worldly point of view the step 
was imprudent, because he had sufficient reason to 
know that the manners of the Canaanites were in 
general corrupt and dissolute; but it was especially 
reprehensible in Jacob, as a worshipper of God, to 
allow his child (however desirous herself to see the 


world, or flattered by the attention of its inha- 
bitants) to cultivate intimacies with those who were 
not under the influence of godliness. The result 
was that Shechem,the son of Hamor, who was prince 
of the country, availed himself of the opportunity, 
and without any scruple violated her chastity. It is 
worthy of remark likewise, that the person, guilty of 
this flagrant breach of morality and of the rites of 
hospitality, is described as more honorable than all 
the house of his father; which only more clearly 
evinces how little dependance is to be placed upon 
the principles of a libertine; and that what the world 
calls honor is utterly insufficient to preserve its pos- 
sessor from a breach of the laws either of God or 
man, when a suitable temptation presents itself. 

The prince however was seized with an ardent 
affection for Dinah, and urged his father to pro- 
cure her for him in marriage. The sons of Jacob 
took the management of this affair into their own 
hands. They were greatly exasperated ; though their 
anger appears to have been more on account of the 
disgrace which attached to the family of Israel, than 
for the dishonour done to God ; but dissembling their 
resentment, in the hope of finding an opportunity for 
revenge, they listened to the overture; alleging, how- 
ever, at the same time, that they could not intermarry 
with them, unless all the males should first be circum- 
cised as they were. Hamor and his son possessed 
sufficient influence and address to prevail on their 
people immediately to comply with this preliminary; 
alluring them with the expectation, that by a more 
general intermarrying with Jacob's family, their large 
possessions in cattle would speedily become their own. 
On the third day however, when the inflammation 


arising from the operation was at its height, and the 
men were all in a measure laid up, Simeon and Levi, 
brothers of Dinah by the same mother, fell upon them 
with the sword, slew Hamor and Shechem and all the 
inhabitants, and took away Dinah, who had been im- 
properly detained. 1 

Jacob was greatly alarmed at this result. He per- 
ceived that it must quickly become known to the 
other inhabitants of Canaan, (among whom they were 
but as a handful,) and that these would in all proba- 
bility immediately combine for their destruction. But 
the Lord was still with Jacob, and directed him im- 
mediately to return to Bethel, and at the same time 
he struck the neighbouring inhabitants with panic, so 
that not one dared pursue. 2 

It is remarkable, as affording a striking proof of the 
proneness of the human heart to apostacy from God, 
that even Israel had to call upon his family on his 
departure to put away their strange gods, in order 
that they might ensure the blessing of the Lord. Ra- 
chel, when she quitted Padan Aram, had stolen her 
father's Teraphim, and had probably continued to use 

1 Though Simeon and Levi only are mentioned, the probability is 
that they were accompanied by servants or followers of their own ; 
and the other sons of Jacob appear to have immediately followed, and 
to have sacked the city, taking captive the women and children. 

2 It must not be inferred, because the Lord saved Jacob and his 
family from destruction at this time, that therefore the treachery and 
vindictiveness of his sons are approved. On the contrary, though a 
righteous retribution was permitted to fall by the hand of Simeon and 
Levi upon the house of Hamor, yet in Jacob's dying prophecy, the 
Spirit moves him to describe this deed in its true character, as regards 
the perpetrators ; and to shew that a curse was upon them in conse- 
quence. It is not, however, the manner of holy writ always to com- 
ment on the actions it relates; neither does it invariably point out 
the evil consequences of a departure from righteous principles. Never- 
theless those consequences are generally made manifest by a narration 
of them. 


them ; for it was no uncommon thing for those, who 
were professedly worshippers of the true God, to min- 
gle with that worship certain of the idolatries and 
superstitions of the heathen round about them. 1 This 
appears to have been the case with Laban, Rachel, 
and probably Leah, and now naturally enough, after 
this parental example, with their offspring. They 
are likewise said to have surrendered their earrings 
to Jacob on this occasion, which were therefore worn 
for some superstititious purpose— perhaps as amulets 
or charms. 

Soon after this event Jacob lost his beloved Ra- 
chel, in giving birth to a second child ; after which 
his family consisted of twelve sons, besides the 
daughter who has just been named. These were the 
patriarchs or progenitors of the twelve tribes of 
Israel, and are as follow: by his wife Leah he had 
Reuben his first born, Simeon, Levi, Judah, Issachar, 
andZebulun; by Rachael, Joseph and Benjamin; by 
Bilhah, Rachaers handmaid, Dan andNaphtali; and 
by Zilpah, Leah's handmaid, whom she also gave to 
her husband, Gad and Asher. Leah was the despised 
one; but not only had she by far the most numerous 
progeny, which was in those days considered a glory 
to the woman ; but Judah also sprang from her, the 
great ancestor of the Messiah and of the Jews. 

Jacob again removed to Mature, where his father 
still dwelt, whom he had the satisfaction of once 
more seeing, and continued with him till the death 
of Isaac, which took place in the 180th year of his 

i Maimonides says, that the Teraphim were made of particular 
metals and dedicated to particular planets. They were chiefly used for 
divination ; for in Ezekiel xxi. 21, the king: of Babylon is said to have 
" looked on the liver and consulted his Teraphim." So Zech. x. 2, 
" the Teraphim have spoken vanity, the diviners have seen a lie." 


a<>*e. Esau and Jacob were both present at his 
burial ; after which they became entirely separated, 
and their descendants most commonly at enmity, 
Jacob however appears at this time to have been ac- 
knowledged as the successor of Isaac ; and Esau 
withdrew to Mount Seir and dwelt there. 

JOSEPH.— [a.m. 2276.] The current of thj his- 
tory now carries us to the notice of Joseph; to the 
seventeenth year of whose age we must first return. 
At this period he was a youth of evident piety, and 
enjoyed the special regard and affection of his fa- 
ther ; but this partiality provoked at the same time 
the jealousy of his brethren; 1 which other circum- 
stances tended to aggravate and inflame. For Jo- 
seph had been sent under the care of four of his 
brethren, the sons of Bilhah and Zilpah, to feed his 
father's flock; and he had reported to his father their 
evil conduct when removed from observation. He 
was in his turn also a prophet, and had vouchsafed 
to him various divine revelations, in dreams and 
visions of the night ; in which were set forth his own 
future greatness, and the subjection to him of his 
brethren. And, thirdly, instead of being habited in 
the ordinary pastoral dress of his brethren, Jacob 
had clothed him in a garment "of many colours/' 
(supposed to have been of variegated embroidery,) 
such as was worn only by princes. 

An opportunity soon presented itself, which be- 

* The reason assigned in the scriptures for this partiality is that 
Joseph was the son of Jacob's old age ; but in this respect Benjamin 
was still more so, and equally the son of Rachael; and the whole of 
Jacob's family were born to him in the course of thirteen years. The 
expression in the original is literally " the son of elders," which may 
mean that he was a child exhibiting' the prudence and wisdom of 
elders ; and the ancient Targum of Onkelos therefore explains it,— 
"because he was a ivise child." 



trayed that the spirit of envy is of him who was " a 
murderer from the beginning." Joseph's brethren 
were sent away to Shechem, where it appears that 
Jacob had ventured to re-occupy the former pastures. 
Joseph was afterwards dispatched to inquire after 
them ; and finding them removed to Dothan, he pro- 
ceeded thither ; when his brethren, perceiving his ap- 
proach, determined to destroy him. There was an 
exception to this murderous intention: Reuben medi- 
tated his deliverance, but deemed it needful to dis- 
semble ; and he proposed therefore that they should 
not themselves imbrue their hands in his blood, but 
cast him into a pit, and there leave him to perish ; 
his secret purpose being to draw him out afterwards, 
and restore him to his father. This proposal was 
immediately acceded to and carried into execution, 
despite of the cries and agony of Joseph. But Judah 
also felt some compunction of heart ; and observing 
a company of Ishmaelitish merchants on their route 
for Egypt, he proposed that they should not be ac- 
cessory in any way to Joseph's death, but sell him 
by these merchants into slavery. This proposal was 
likewise concurred in, and he was consequently 
drawn up and sold ; after which his brethren, dipping 
his many-coloured garment in the blood of a kid, re- 
paired with it to his father, pretending that they had 
found it. Jacob immediately concluded that he was 
devoured by wild beasts, and gave himself up to ex- 
cessive grief ; whilst his sons and daughters are re- 
presented as endeavouring to console him ; — a scene 
of odious hypocrisy on the part of those who were 
the authors of this affliction. 

The moral condition of Jacob's family was indeed 
evidently deplorable. Joseph's report of them to his 


father shews that their conduct generally must have 
been bad ; and we have witnessed their blood-thirsty 
vindictiveness in the destruction of the Shechemites ; 
their defilement with the superstitious and idolatrous 
practices of the Canaanites ; and their readiness, with 
only two exceptions, 1 to imbrue their hands in the 
blood of a brother. Of the two excepted we have 
also unfavourable particulars to record: Reuben was 
guilty of adultery and incest with Bilhah, his father's 
concubine, (whose conduct, considering her age and 
position in the family, was even more atrocious than 
that of Reuben,) and the licentiousness of Judah is 
but too apparent from the history in Genesis, chap, 

These men alleged among themselves, as a reason 
for their cruel treatment of Joseph, that they would 
thereby frustrate his dreams of aggrandisement : but 
vain is the counsel of men against the Most High.-— 
The very means, taken by them to prevent the accom- 
plishment of Joseph's prophecies, proved but as links 
in the chain of events which led to their fulfilment. 
The Ishmaelites took Joseph with them into Egypt 
and sold him to Potiphar, a military officer of rank ; 
and the Lord so blessed and prospered all that Jo- 
seph undertook for his master, that he was made 
steward or deputy over his whole establishment. 

But a new trial awaited Joseph ; for God often 
humbles and proves, by previous affliction, those 
whom he designs greatly to elevate. His personal 
beauty, which has been greatly celebrated by the 
Arabian writers, attracted the notice and excited the 
concupiscence of the Egyptian officer's wife, who in 

* Benjamin was probably not with his brethren, at the time when 
Joseph visited them, being little more than a child. 
D 2 


plain and direct terms invited him to be her para- 
mour, and daily annoyed him with solicitations ; but 
he refused, and reminded her how gross a breach 
such an act would be of the confidence reposed in 
him by her husband, and how great the wickedness 
in the sight of God ; and when he perceived that his 
appeal to her moral sense of duty and of honor was 
in vain, he refused to trust himself any longer in her 
company alone. The abandoned woman obtained, 
nevertheless, another opportunity of importuning Jo- 
seph ; and as he attempted immediately to retreat, 
she caught him by the garment, which he left in 
her possession and fled out. Disappointed and con- 
founded, she now determined on revenge ; and with 
hypocrisy which equalled her sensuality, she com- 
plained to her lord on his return ; that Joseph had 
assaulted her ; that she had cried aloud for assistance ; 
and that in his hurry to escape he had left his gar- 
ment in her hand. The indignation of Potiphar 
was immediately aroused ; and whether it was that 
the forbearance of Joseph attempted no explanation, 
or the impetuosity of Potiphar would listen to none, 
he was immediately cast into prison. 

[a.m. 2287.] The Lord, however, was still with 
Joseph, and the dungeon proved only another step 
toward his advancement. Among the prisoners 
were the butler and chief baker of the king, who 
had offended him; and during their incarceration 
each had a remarkable dream, and was troubled 
and perplexed to know the import. Joseph gave 
them to understand, that by the Spirit of God he 
could expound their dreams, and declared the signi- 
fication to be, that the butler would in three days be 
restored by Pharaoh to his office, and that the baker 


would at the expiration of the same period be 
hanged; all which exactly came to pass as he had 

Two years afterwards Pharaoh had a remarkable 
dream. He saw seven fat kine arise out of the river 
Nile and feed in a meadow, and seven lean and 
miserable kine come out after them and devour 
them, without appearing any the fatter for their 
extraordinary meal. He awoke ; then slept and 
dreamed again, that he saw seven good and excellent 
ears of corn devoured by seven thin and blasted 
ears. And when his spirit was also troubled, and 
he had in vain consulted his wise men, the butler 
informed him concerning Joseph, who was accord- 
ingly sent for. Joseph first disclaimed that the power 
of interpreting dreams was in any respect his own, 
and ascribing the glory to God, he proceeded to de- 
clare, that the dreams of Pharaoh were graciously 
sent him of the Lord to admonish him what was 
about to happen in his kingdom ; — that they por- 
tended seven successive years of great plenty, fol- 
lowed by another seven years of so great dearth, that 
the superabundance of the former years would be 
entirely swallowed up and consumed thereby. He 
concluded by advising Pharaoh to look out some 
person of discretion, and to set him over the land 
with proper officers under him, that he might gather 
together the surplus produce of the first seven years, 
and store it up against the time of need. 

This counsel was universally approved, both by 
Pharaoh and his courtiers ; and turning to the latter, 
the king pertinently asked, " Can we find such a 
one as this, (meaning Joseph) a man in whom is the 
Spirit of God?" He then took the signet from his 


linger, and placing it upon Joseph's, caused him to be 
arrayed in princely apparel, and made him chief 
ruler in Egypt after himself. Thus mediately Joseph 
owed his elevation to his modesty; for his deprecat- 
ing from himself the power of interpreting dreams, 
and ascribing it to the Spirit of God, led Pharaoh to 
conclude that Joseph must therefore have the Spirit 
of God dwelling in him, and that he was consequently 
the most suitable person he could find.— So true it is 
that God honours those who honour him. 1 

Joseph used great diligence and activity during 
the seven years of plenty. Extensive magazines 
were erected in all directions, and filled with the 
surplus produce of the earth, which was so great 
that they at length desisted from taking any regular 
account of it. But the seven years of dearth imme- 
diately succeeded, and now the importance of 
Joseph's counsel was sensibly perceived. He imme- 
diately opened the public granaries; and not only the 
inhabitants of Egypt, but likewise of the surrounding 
nations, were speedily compelled to resort to him for 

Among the strangers who applied to Joseph came 
his brethren, and prostrated themselves before him. 
Joseph knew them, and had now ample opportunity 
of avenging himself, had he been so disposed ; but he 
was only bent on availing himself of this providential 
opening to bring them to a different state of mind. 

i Isaac Cullimore, Esq., the author of various learned astronomical 
papers on Chronology, read before the Royal Society, deduces from 
the discoveries of M. Champollion, that this Pharaoh was the Osor- 
tesen of Manetho, the founder of a mighty dynasty. The name 
Zaphnath-paaneah, which was given by Pharaoh to Joseph, is found 
coupled with that of Osortesen on the monumental tablet of Raamses 
the Great, found at Abydos. See Morning Watch, vol. vi. p. 405. 


For this end he assumed a harsh deportment, affected 
to consider them as spies, and conversed with them 
only through an interpreter. The charge of being 
spiesjed them to declare more explicitly their family 
and number, viz. that they were twelve brethren, that 
one was deceased, and another remained at home 
with their father. This statement Joseph pretended 
to disbelieve, and declaring that he would prove its 
truth by sending and fetching their brother, he threw 
them into prison ; but at the end of three days sent 
for them again, and giving them to understand that 
he would not keep their families without corn, he 
took Simeon from them as a hostage for the return of 
the rest, and had him bound before their eyes. These 
proceedings already, through the blessing of God, pro- 
duced some good effect. The recollection of their sin 
was brought home to their consciences with lively 
compunction of heart, and they acknowledged the 
hand of God in bringing upon them so just a re- 
tribution. As they spake these things openly to 
each other, under the impression that Joseph un- 
derstood them not, he overheard their discourse, and 
with great difficulty concealed his emotion. At 
length he dismissed them and they returned home, 
where they immediately gave to their father Israel 
a circumstantial account of what had happened, 
with the additional fact, that on taking down their 
sacks of corn from their asses, each man found 
the money paid for it restored and placed in the 
sack's mouth; which both surprised them and filled 
them with consternation, not knowing whether God 
purposed to bring good or evil upon them thereby. 

Israel was greatly affected at the detention of 
Simeon, and still more by the circumstance of Benja- 


min being demanded ; and exclaiming in a paroxysm 
of grief, that all these things were against him, he 
resolutely determined that he would not send Ben- 
jamin. Thus blind at times are even the saints of 
God, when oppressed by troubles. They lose sight of 
the repeated proofs which they have had of God's 
love, and conclude that he is fighting against them, 
only because they need patience to await the issue of 
their trials. Jacob continued deaf to the remon- 
strances of his sons, until the supply of food was 
exhausted ; when perceiving that Benjamin must 
needs perish at home if he remained, he reluctantly 
sent him away, and tremblingly awaited the result. 

A second time therefore did the brethren of 
Joseph present themselves before him, and bow 
themselves to the earth ; on which Joseph directed 
his steward to take them to his house, and there to 
make ready for entertaining them. So unusual a 
compliment however excited their suspicions and 
disquietude, and they were anxious to inform the 
steward of the money which they had found in their 
sacks; but he comforted them with the assurance 
that he had duly received it, and by bringing out 
their brother Simeon to them. Joseph soon after ap- 
peared, and after hospitably entertaining, again dis- 
missed them ; having previously however directed 
that his silver cup should be placed in the sack of 
Benjamin. He then despatched his steward after 
them, who charged them with the robbery. With 
unaffected protestations of their innocence, they im- 
mediately invited a search of their baggage, propos- 
ing that the person with whom it should be found 
should be Joseph's slave. The proposal was ac- 
cepted, the search made, and the cup of course dis- 


covered where it had been placed. All was now afflic- 
tion and dismay ; and returning with their clothes 
rent, they declared before Joseph, that it was a just 
punishment for their iniquities, and offered them- 
selves as bondmen. Joseph however desired that 
Benjamin only, with whom the cup was found, should 
be detained, and that the rest should return with the 
necessary succours to their families ; on which Judah 
stood forth, and relating all the circumstances which 
had induced their father to hesitate concerning send- 
ing Benjamin, and their own solicitude for their aged 
parent's welfare, finally offered himself as a bondman 
in Benjamin's stead. 

The speech of Judah on this occasion has been 
justly admired for its simple and pathetic eloquence: 
it is more worthy of remark, as decidedly indicating 
the ameliorated spirit which now prevailed in the 
family of Israel. Formerly they were envious of 
their brother Joseph, because they perceived that 
their father chiefly loved him : now the like circum- 
stance is the occasion of their cherishing with par- 
ticular solicitude and care their brother Benjamin. 
Formerly they were reckless of their father's feelings 
and happiness, and thought only of their own re- 
venge : now all concern for themselves is absorbed 
in the overwhelming apprehension, that the gray 
hairs of Israel might be brought down with sorrow 
to the grave. Formerly, to gratify their own pas- 
sions, they scrupled not to bring upon themselves the 
guilt of a brother's blood : now they are all ready to 
offer themselves as bondmen in a brother's stead. 

Joseph was unable longer to refrain himself, and 
having caused all the bystanders in his hall of au- 
dience to go forth, he made himself known to his 


brethren. Mingled feelings of awe at the now mani- 
fest exaltation of their brother, combined with the 
recollection of their own cruel treatment of him, 
caused them at first to be greatly troubled at his 
presence ; but he at length encouraged them, by 
shewing how marvellously God had overruled their 
wrath, as a means of preserving them a posterity in 
the earth, and to save their lives by a great deliver- 
ance. He then fell upon his brother Benjamin's 
neck and wept aloud, and next embraced the others, 
weeping over them and kissing them; after which 
they were enabled to commune with him. 

The report of this event was speedily conveyed to 
Pharaoh, who together with his servants was pleased 
at the intelligence, and commanded that they should 
return and fetch their families, and come again into 
Egypt. Joseph joyfully complied, and sent away his 
brethren with asses loaded with presents for his father, 
and provisions for the journey, together with carriages 
for the conveyance of his father and the wives and 
children of his brethren. The news of the existence 
and glory of his long-lost son powerfully affected the 
mind of Israel. His heart fainted within him at the 
first; nor could he believe the intelligence, until he 
went out and beheld the presents and carriages sent 
to him by Joseph ; when his spirit revived, and he 
immediately resolved on going into Egypt. 

[a.m. 2298.] Jacob was met on the way by Joseph, 
when an affecting interview took place. On his arrival 
at the capital he was introduced by Joseph to the pre- 
sence of Pharaoh, who treated him with much kind- 
ness and condescension, and directed that his family 
should be located in Goshen, the most fertile region 
of Egypt. On being informed likewise of their pas- 


toral habits, he promoted his sons to be rulers over his 
shepherds and herdsmen ; beyond which there was 
probably no post of honour or of office readily open 
to them, on account of the peculiar superstitions of 
the Egyptians, which led them to view all shepherds 
as an abomination. 1 Pharaoh obtained from Israel 
a more valuable boon in return ; — viz. the twice re- 
corded blessing of the venerable prophet; besides 
being reminded by him of the vanity of human life, 
— a lesson of singular advantage to princes, and but 
rarely read before them. 

[a.m. 2315.] Israel lived seventeen years in Egypt, 
and died at the age of 147 years. Of his last hours 
several interesting particulars are recorded, bearing 
upon the future destinies of his family. Joseph ap- 
proached him with his two sons, Manasseh and 
Ephraim, (for he had married a daughter of the priest 
of On,)' in order that they might receive his bless- 
ing ; on which occasion Israel adopted them as his 
sons, rather than as grandsons ; leaving to be counted 
to Joseph only his succeeding issue. In consequence 
of which, when the land of Canaan was afterwards 
portioned out among the posterity of the patriarchs, 
no mention is made of any lot for the descendants of 
Joseph, but for those of Manasseh and Ephraim in his 
place. In pronouncing the blessing also upon these 
two, he was led by the Spirit of God to cross his 
hands, and place his right hand on the head of 
Ephraim the younger, and his left on the head of 

i The Egyptians of Thebes, according to Herodotus, (lib. ii.) ate no 
mutton, because they worshipped Ham or Ammon under the image 
of a ram. This is the most probable solution of their prejudice against 
those who raised sheep for the purpose of slaughtering them. 


Manasseh, contrary to the custom of primogeniture ; l 
and when Joseph remonstrated, the old man neverthe- 
less persisted, and pronounced the future superiority 
and greatness of Ephraim over Manasseh. On the day 
of his decease Jacob summoned all his sons, and pro- 
phetically admonished them of what would befal their 
posterity; in which dying annunciation it is worthy 
of remark that Reuben, who had so greatly outraged 
his father and offended against God, and Simeon 
and Levi also, who had betrayed great violence and 
cruelty in the instance of the Shechemites, are repri- 
manded instead of being blessed. 1 And it is finally 
recorded of him, that on this occasion he worshipped 
leaning on the top of his staff; the object of mention- 
ing which is apparently to shew, that although he 
had now arrived at so advanced an age as to need 
this support, and had been so long a stranger and so- 
journer in the earth, his faith in the promises of the 
God of his fathers continued nevertheless unshaken. 
Had Jacob been Pharaoh himself, his funeral could 
not have been conducted with greater solemnity and 
pomp. Joseph caused him to be embalmed and in- 
terred, according to his own dying request, in the 
cave of Machpelah ; and there went up with his re- 
mains the officers of Pharaoh's household, ail the 

1 It is remarkable, considering- how the principle of primogeniture 
was cherished and venerated among the nations of the east, and af- 
terwards sanctioned by God himself, when he required that the first- 
born should be considered as consecrated to Himself, (Exod. xiii. 2) 
that he nevertheless repeatedly set it aside, in the instances of the 
more eminent patriarchs, as if to make it manifest, in regard to the 
history of this extraordinary people, that they are an election, the 
objects of his peculiar and sovereign favour. Thus Shem was the 
junior of Japhet; Abraham of Haran ; Isaac of Ishmaelj Jacob of Esau; 
Joseph of ten out of his eleven brethren 5 Ephraim of Manasseh ; 
Moses of Aaron -, David of the other sons of Jesse. 


\ nobles and elders of Egypt, and a great company of 

\ chariots and horsemen. 

| [a.m. 2368.] Joseph survived his father 54 years, 

| and died at the age of 110 years ; having dwelt about 
ninety years of that period in Egypt, during eighty 
of which he was prime minister or vicegerent, the 
most elevated post to which any subject could at- 

\ tain. History affords no parallel of one elevated so 
high, yet dependant on another, who has continued 
so long in power, undisturbed by factious intrigues 
or the machinations of jealous inferiors. And when 
it is considered that Joseph was an obscure foreigner, 
elevated over the heads of all the native princes and 
nobles of the empire, and that he brought them into 
a state of complete subjection to Pharaoh, it is still 
more remarkable, and could only have proceeded 
from the general conviction that God was with him. 
For during the seven years of famine he first obtained 
the money of the inhabitants for corn ; then he ob- 
tained their cattle, next their lands, and finally their 
persons; and as an expressive tvpe of Him who will 
hereafter take upon him the government of the whole 
world, he gathered together ail things in one, and 
surrendered them up to Pharaoh. The lands were 
indeed eventually restored, or rather leased, to the 
parties who had previously owned them; for the 
right of Pharaoh to them was recognised by a law 
requiring the occupants to pay to the king annually 
a fifth part of the produce. The priests however 
formed an exception ; for as it was their privilege, 
in the first instance, to be nourished from the table 
of the king, so their land continued in their own pos- 
session, and became not the property of Pharaoh. 1 
1 Mr. Wilkinson shews from Herodotus ii. 37, that all E^ypt was 


At the time of his death, Joseph likewise evinced 
the stedfastness of his faith in the promises of God, 
by giving an assurance to the children of Israel, that 
God would surely visit them, and bring them out of 
Egypt to the land promised to Abraham, Isaac and 
Jacob ; and he expressly enjoined them, that when they 
should go forth, they should carry up his bones with 
them. He was then embalmed and deposited in a 
coffin, to await the Exodus of his brethren. 

Scripture is silent concerning the proceedings of 
the brethren of Joseph in Egypt, and of their poste- 
rity, until we come to the period of the Exodus ; so 
that with Joseph may be said to terminate the history 
of the Patriarchs. It is hoped that the brief details 
which have been given of the events of their lives 
will not be regarded as superfluous, when it is con- 
sidered that Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in particular 
are the great founders of the Hebrew nation; the 
three covenant heads with whom all the promises of 
grace and glory to the church were made ; and the 
three whom the Lord delights continually to name, 
as being specially their God. Less would not have 
sufficed to convey an adequate notion of their respec- 
tive characters: more would have been incompatible 
with the limits of a single volume. 

divided into three portions : one of which was the property of the 
king, whilst the priests and the military possessed the other two ; 
and that the priests were likewise entitled to be sustained with corn 
from the public granaries : for which reason he concludes it was that 
the priests' lands were not sold. The portion therefore of the mili- 
tary would be the only one sold; and these we must presume were a 
militia force, tilling the land and serving in the army by turns. (Cus- 
toms, &c. of Ant. Egypt, vol. i. p. 262.) 




Excepting the personal manifestations of himself 
vouchsafed by the Almighty to Abraham, Isaac, and 
Jacob, he had hitherto interposed in behalf of his 
people, only by those instances of protection and de- 
liverance which may be called providential, as dis- 
tinguished from the miraculous. We now however 
arrive at an era in the history of Israel which will 
prove remarkable for a display of signs and wonders 
of a different character. If some of these are no more 
than natural phenomena on a larger scale than ordi- 
nary, yet this very magnitude of the phenomena, 
added to the fact of their being previously predicted, 
renders it manifest that God immediately directs or 
moves the agency employed. In regard however to 
others of them, either the ordinary laws of nature are 
deviated from, or an agency is employed, the pheno- 
mena of which cannot be accounted for on any 
known principles. Many hypotheses have indeed 
been put forward, (for " vain man would be wise ; ") 
and many are dissatisfied if they cannot resolve 
every alleged miracle by some ascertained principle 
of science. The restlessness, however, of men to 


account for every thing which is declared to be the 
immediate work of God, and their delight in every 
fresh discovery which enables them to explain a 
marvel which they could not understand before, 
only betrays a latent germ of infidelity, without 
in any degree altering the real nature of the case. 
For should it hereafter be discovered that there 
have all along existed certain occult principles by 
which every alleged miracle might be explained, 
it would not disprove the fact that those principles 
are at the immediate command of Him by whose 
divine fiat they were first called into existence ; by 
whom they are now either maintained in operation, 
or at his pleasure suspended ; and who purposes here- 
after to dissolve the very elements of nature, and re- 
construct the world. (2 Peter iii.) 

[a.m. 2369 to 2512.] The children of Israel had 
multiplied so rapidly in Egypt, as to have become a 
considerable people. A prince however had succeeded 
to the throne who was the opposite in character and 
disposition of the patron and protector of Joseph. By 
nature subtle, cruel and suspicious, he regarded with 
a jealous eye the rapidly-increasing numbers of the 
Hebrews ; and forgetting the great benefits which the 
nation, and the monarch in particular, had derived 
from their eminent kinsman, he thought only of the 
unfriendly influence which they might exercise in 
case of war or insurrection ; and therefore he re- 
solved to diminish their power and numbers, whilst 
at the same time he was desirous not to lose their 
services. To this end he reduced them under a 
rigorous bondage ; made them the brickmakers and 
builders of Egypt, l and exacted from them so great 

1 Josephus states that they built the pyramids : it is certain from 


an amount of labour, as to render their life miser- 
able. In modern Egypt the effect of a grinding 
tyranny has been to diminish the population; and 
doubtless the same effect would have followed in 
the age of the Pharaohs, had it not been that God 
manifestly interposed in behalf of Israel ; so that, 
notwithstanding the adverse political circumstances 
in which they were placed, they still continued to 

Pharaoh on this gave secret instructions to the 
Hebrew mid wives, to destroy the male offspring ; 
but this stroke of craft and cruelty being rendered 
abortive by the humanity of the midwives, he next 
put forth an edict, in which he charged the whole 
nation to cast into the river every male Hebrew 
child that should thenceforth be born. This pro- 
duced the desired effect : for the Egyptians having 
become evil affected towards the Hebrews, the king's 
command was now strictly enforced, and the Israel- 
ites were consequently brought into still greater af- 

But their faithful God was not regardless of them. 
The wife of a man named Amram, of the tribe of 
Levi, bore him a son, concerning whom his parents 
received some divine intimation that he was to be 

the scriptures that several cities were erected by them, among which 
were Pithom and Raamses. A tomb has been discovered at Thebes, 
belonging to a superintendent of public works of the reign of Thoth- 
mos the third, on which is sculptured a representation of Hebrews 
making bricks. It is published by the antiquary Sig. Rosellini, (Men. 
Civ. pi. xhx.) The whole is too graphical and expressive to be mis- 
taken, and seems greatly to confirm the statement of Josephus, that 
the Exodus took place under that monarch. Serious difficulties how- 
ever stand in the way of such a conclusion, as mav be seen in Air 
Cullimore's able paper on the Exodi of the Jews and Greeks. (Fraser's 
Magazine for Oct. 1836.) See also the note at the end of this chanter. 


the deliverer of his people. 1 They determined there- 
fore at the risk of their own lives to conceal him ; 
but finding, at the end of three months, that they 
could no longer accomplish it, they constructed a 
basket of rushes, and having made it impervious to 
water and placed the child therein, thej r launched 
the fragile vessel on the stream, and committed it 
to God. By a remarkable conjuncture of circum- 
stances, the Lord caused the daughter of Pharaoh 
to visit that part of the river, together with her 
female attendants, for the purpose of bathing; and 
espying the little ark, now entangled among the 
flags, she sent one of her maids to fetch it, but was 
greatly surprised to discover, on opening it, that it 
contained a babe. The infant cry, and the great 
beauty of the child, immediately found a passage 
for it to her affections ; and though she truly guessed 
at its Hebrew origin, she resolved to have it reared 
up for herself, and unconsciously engaged the mo- 
ther of the child to nurse it. This princess gave 
him the name of Moses, which signifies in the Egyp- 
tian tongue " drawn from the water ; " by which name 
he has ever been distinguished. 

When Moses was of an age to be educated, the 
daughter of Pharaoh adopted him as her own son, 
made him her heir, and had him instructed in all the 
various learning and sciences of the Egyptians ; in 
which the young pupil made great progress. Moses, 
however, received direct from God an endowment 
far more valuable than anything which he obtained 
by the instrumentality of the Egyptian princess ; 
for he was richly gifted with divine grace. Unmoved 

? Compare Acts vii. 25, and Heb. xi. 23. 


by the allurements of rank, wealth and learning, 
by which he was surrounded, his thoughts and affec- 
tions were engaged in behalf of his afllieted people ; 
and though he might easily have passed for an Egyp- 
tian, and as the grandson of the king, yet he pre- 
ferred to be known as an Israelite, and to share the 
reproach of his brethren according to the flesh. He 
had evidently been instructed by his parents, that God 
had designs of mercy for his people through his instru- 
mentality ; and he imagined that his brethren would 
necessarily be persuaded of these circumstances ; x 
but in this he was deceived, and soon had a humbling 
proof of his mistake. Observing a Hebrew ill-treated 
by an Egyptian, his sympathy and indignation were 
aroused, and taking part with his oppressed brother, 
he slew the Egyptian and buried him in the sand. 
Through the treachery, however, of his own country- 
men, the circumstance was betrayed to Pharaoh, who 
determined on this account to put Moses to death : 
apprized of which intention, Moses hastily fled into 
the land of Midian, where he contracted an intimacy 
with Jethro the high priest, and married Zipporah 
his daughter, by whom he had two sons. 

[a.m. 2513.]— Forty long years rolled over the 
head of Moses in this retreat, during which the 
king of Egypt died ; but the prince who succeeded 
to the throne still pursued the same crooked policy 
toward the Israelites ; whilst Moses, who had now 
reached his eightieth year, seems to have given 
up the expectation of any deliverance of Israel 
being effected by his hand. One day, however,' 
whilst he was tending the flock of Jethro in the 

1 Acts vii. 25. 
E 2 


vicinity of Mount Horeb, his attention was suddenly 
arrested by a remarkable phenomenon. A bush ap- 
peared to be in flames ; but no waste or consumption 
of it followed the combustion. Turning aside to 
ascertain the cause, he was arrested by a voice which 
proceeded from the flame ; and which proved to be 
the great angel of the covenant— the Eternal 
Word, — who announced that he had come down 
to deliver his people from their bondage, and that 
Moses himself was to be their leader. 

How entirely Moses must have abandoned this 
hope is seen by the extraordinary reluctance which 
he now betrayed for the undertaking. His former 
rejection by his countrymen is evidently fresh in his 
recollection. He first pleads his insignificance ; next 
his persuasion that his people will not receive him ; 
and then that he is slow of utterance. The Lord 
however overrules his objections ; empowers him to 
work certain signs for the conviction of his coun- 
trymen ; and appoints his brother Aaron to be his 
spokesman and companion. He further instructs 
him to demand of Pharaoh that he should let the 
Hebrews go three days' journey into the wilderness, 
for the purpose of offering a sacrifice which he will 
there appoint ; but at the same time admonishes him 
that he will harden Pharaoh's heart, so that he will 
not let the people go ; that this will give occasion 
for the exhibition of his mighty signs and wonders ; 
and that after his power and glory shall have been 
thus displayed, and the Egyptians signally chastised 
for their unbelief and oppression, the Hebrews shall 
at length be permitted to depart. 1 

i The plain declaration of holy writ, that the Lord hardened 
the heart of Pharaoh, and raised him up for the purpose of showing 


Moses, being silenced, returned to Jethro, and 
having bade, him farewell, he departed from Midian, 
with his wife and two sons, for the land of Egypt ; 
and having met Aaron by the way, who embraced 
him with cordial affection, they together summoned 
the elders of Israel, and spake all the words and 
wrought the signs which the Lord had commanded. 
And the people believed, and when they clearly in- 
ferred from these things that God had at length looked 
down upon their affliction, they bowed their heads in 
grateful adoration and worshipped. 

Encouraged by this reception, Moses and Aaron 
now went boldly in before Pharaoh, and made the 
request prescribed, in the name of the Lord the God 
of Israel. The despot however accused Moses and 

forth his judgments and wonders, has stumbled many ; especially 
those who are unwilling to admit of the absolute sovereignty of God 
in all things. Such can find no conclusion short of the awful 
doctrine, that God is the author of evil, and that he predestinated 
Pharaoh to be wicked. Two things however have to be considered 
relative to this matter. First, that, according to the scripture idiom, 
God is often said to do that which he only permits. Thus he is said, 
in 2 Samuel xxiv. 1, to move David to number Israel ; whereas in 
l Chron. xxi. l, Satan is expressly said to have been the author of 
that temptation. And as in another place it is declared that God 
tempteth no man with evil, (James i. 13) so in the present instance 
we must understand, that God left Pharaoh to the natural hardness 
of his heart, and permitted Satan to practise upon it. Secondly, it 
must be remembered, that it is the regal dignity of Pharaoh that is re- 
ferred to, when the Lord says—" For this cause have I raised thee 
up." The Lord needed at this particular crisis of his church a parti- 
cular instrument, who should give occasion, by the operation of 
natural causes, for calling forth his mighty works; and just there- 
fore as an artist or mechanist goes into his workroom, and selects 
from among a thousand different tools the implement needed for a 
particular occasion, so by his foreknowledge and providence God pre- 
destines this man to the crown of Egypt, and he is born to inherit it. 
Pharaoh would have been a proud and haughty unbeliever and scoffer 
had he been born a slave ; but as a slave he would have been acted 
upon by a different train of circumstances, which would have deve- 
loped his character under different modifications. 



Aaron of encouraging their people to be idle; and 
the superintendents over them were directed to in- 
crease their daily task of labour, and instead of pro- 
viding straw for them from the public stores, to leave 
them to procure it for themselves. In the search after 
stubble the Hebrews necessarily lost mucli time, and 
a smaller quantity of bricks was consequently manu- 
factured ; but when this diminution in the daily rale 
was reported to Pharaoh, he would hear no excuse, 
but unreasonably and tyrannically insisting on his 
previous accusation, that they were idle, he ordered 
the chiefs of the people to be beaten. 

The elders of Israel met Moses and Aaron, and 
reproached them with having brought their nation 
into this miserable strait ; so ready is man to charge 
the servants of the Lord unjustly. But the two pro- 
phets nevertheless felt deeply for their brethren, and 
earnestly pleaded with God ; who not only conde- 
scended to assure them of his purpose to redeem 
Israel, but to form them into a peculiar nation as 
his people. Encouraged by this, Moses and Aaron 
went again and stood before Pharaoh, and according 
to the direction of the Lord, when the king demanded 
to see a miracle wrought by them, as an evidence of 
their divine mission, Aaron cast down his rod in the 
midst of the court, and it became a serpent. The king 
sent for his magi and sorcerers, who succeeded, by 
their necromantic art, in imitating the miracle. But 
God nevertheless put this marked difference be- 
tween them and his servants, viz. that the serpent, 
which had been produced from Aaron's rod, swal- 
lowed up the serpents produced by the magicians. 
The heart of Pharaoh however was hardened. 

A series of plagues were next brought on the land. 


First, at the word of Moses, the rivers and streams, 
the ponds, the pools, and cisterns also, became blood, 
and the fish died, and the river stank, and the Egyp- 
tians loathed to drink of it. And at the end of 
a week he brought up frogs from the same waters in 
such multitudes, that they penetrated even to the bed 
of Pharaoh, and infested the ovens and kneading- 
troughs of his subjects. The magicians however in 
both instances did the same, or deceived the king 
with the appearance of so doing ; though one cir- 
cumstance gave in the latter case a decided supe- 
riority to Moses and Aaron, which Pharaoh him- 
self unconsciously avowed. For when annoyed by 
this plague, he seems not to have thought his own 
magicians capable of removing the nuisance, however 
they might have produced it. If the king had applied 
to them to take away the frogs, they had evidently 
failed to accomplish it ; and he now therefore hum- 
bled himself so far as to request of Moses, to entreat 
the Lord to take away this plague ; promising at the 
same time, that he would then let the people go and 
do sacrifice to him. Moses was elated at this appa- 
rent success, and the plague was removed ; but no 
sooner did Pharaoh perceive that there was respite, 
than he again hardened his heart. 

The third plague was the conversion of the dust of 
the land into lice ; which was signalized by the 
circumstance, that the magicians attempted to pro- 
duce them, but failed, and acknowledged there- 
fore to Pharaoh, that this was manifestly the finger 
or power of God. But though the pretext, behind 
which the deceitful heart of Pharoah had taken re- 
fuge, was thus removed from him, yet did he not re- 
lent ; and the Lord therefore next afflicted the people 


with grievous swarms of flies, (probably niusquitoes j 1 ) 
and as the plagues increased in intensity, so likewise 
were those accompanying circumstances multiplied, 
which were calculated to produce conviction. In the 
last instance the magicians were unable to imitate 
the plague: in the infliction of this and the following 
one, the Lord made a distinction between the Egyp- 
tians and the Israelites, preserving the land of Goshen 
from the annoyance; that by this sign also Pharaoh 
might clearly perceive that the plague was of God. 
There now appeared in that monarch a partial relent- 
ing, but a more evident reluctation and clinging to 
his selfish policy. He will permit the Hebrews to 
sacrifice within the land ; and when Moses objects 
that they might be called to offer in worship that 
which the Egyptians held in abomination, and might 
consequently be stoned, Pharaoh will then permit 
them to quit Egypt, provided Moses will pledge him- 
self not to go far away. Moses consented to these 
terms ; but no sooner was the plague removed than 
Pharaoh changed his mind, and relapsed again into 
his previous obduracy. 

A series of plagues followed of a more afflictive 
character. For whereas the former were calculated to 
produce personal annoyance only, these inflicted great 
injury, both on the persons and property of the inhabi- 

i Speaking of Damietta in Egypt, the author of ' Three Weeks in 
Palestine and Lebanon ' says, " One would fancy that it must be the 
head quarters of the legions of Beelzebub, the Insect-god. The flies 
literally blackened the walls, and swarmed in myriads upon every 
article of food set before us ; so that we were obliged to wage war 
against them constantly with one hand, whilst we fed with the other. 
Clouds of these blood-suckers, the musquitoes, attacked us with insa- 
tiable voracity, keeping us night and day in a perpetual fever." p. 2. 
If it is thus in ordinary seasons, what must it have been when so in- 
creased as to have become a signal plague even to the natives of 
Egypt themselves ! 


% tants. First, a murrain fell upon the sheep and cattle 
t of every description ; and a most extensive mortality 
'i, ensued. Next followed an epidemic, consisting of a 
'] grievous sore or ulcerated boil, affecting both man and 
* beast. This was succeeded by an unparalleled visita- 
tion of hail, accompanied by dreadful thunder and 
lightning, which was the more terrific to a people alto- 
gether unaccustomed to rain and storms. 1 Fire was 
mingled with the hail, and streamed along the ground, 
smiting both man and beast that were exposed to it, 
and destroying the trees and herbs. In these three 
plagues the same distinction was again made be- 
tween Israel and the Egyptians; Goshen being free 
from the afflictions; but little or no impression was 

i In Deut. x. 11, there is an indirect allusion to the fact of there 
being no rain in Egypt, and to the method then customary of watering 
the land; a method still practised among the Chinese. — "For the 
land, whither thou goest in to possess it, is not as the land of Egypt, 
from whence ye came out, where thou sowedst thy seed, and water- 
edst it with thy foot, as a garden of herbs ; but a land of hills and 
valleys which drinketh water of the rain of heaven." (See the 
plates in Macartney's Embassy to China.) In Zechariah xiv. 18, it 
is expressly mentioned that there is no rain in Egypt. And Hero-, 
dotus also relates that it once rained at Thebes, and that the cir- 
cumstance occasioned general consternation. H. Salt, Esq., in his 
narrative of the Mozambique country, quotes from a MS. of a 
celebrated Arabian writer (Zaneddin Omar ibn l'.Wardi) the follow- 
ing account of the Zingi.— ' Their land lies opposite to that of Sind. 
Between the two intervenes the breadth of the sea of Persia. — The 
Nile is divided above their country at the mountain Muksim. — 
Snow is not known among them, nor rain, &c.' (Travels in Abyssinia, 
p. 56.) This peculiarity is not confined to Egypt: Baron Humboldt 
says of the long narrow valley between the Pacific and the Andes, 
near Truxillo in Peru, that rain and thunder are unknown in it. (Mac- 
gillivray's edition, p. 336.) The want of rain is amply made up for 
by the increased moisture of the air. The latter writer ascertained 
that the difference of moisture of the air in the equinoctial basin of 
the Atlantic was as 12 to 7 compared with the lake of Geneva ; which 
he considered as accounting, to a great extent, for the vigorous vege- 
tation which presents itself on the coasts of South America, where so 
little rain falls. 


made upon Pharaoh except by the thunder and hail, 
when his stout heart was appalled, and he declared, 
"I have sinned this time: the Lord is righteous, 
and I and my people are wicked." Moses however 
had now learned his character by experience ; and 
though he promised to make intercession, yet he de- 
clared to Pharaoh his persuasion, that neither he nor 
his servants would as yet fear the Lord. And so it 
proved ; for when all was ceased, then (as has been 
the case with the numbers, who have promised well 
under similar terrors,) he sinned yet more, and both 
he and his counsellors hardened their hearts. 

The next visitation was by innumerable swarms of 
locusts. Their appearance is by no means uncom- 
mon in those regions, and their ravages very great. 
The awful description of the prophet Joel is not 
in the least overcharged,—" The land is as the gar- 
den of Eden before them, and behind them a deso- 
late wilderness." 1 The present visitation, however, 
was unparalleled from the size and numbers of the 
locusts. So immense were the swarms, that the air was 
darkened when they arose, the earth on which they 
alighted was scarcely visible, the houses were filled 
with them, and whatsoever remained from the hail 
was now consumed by them. The very announce- 
ment of this coming plague filled the servants of Pha- 
raoh with terror. They had had too many proofs that 
the threatenings of the Lord are not in vain, though he 
could remember mercy, and be gracious in the midst 
of them ; and they now therefore remonstrated with 
the king, reminding him that Egypt was already de- 

l The Rev. S. Gobat, in his account of Abyssinia, gives some in- 
teresting particulars of their appearance and devastations, as wit- 
nessed by himself. 


stroyed, and that it was not a time to provoke further 
calamities. The tyrant was entreated ; he called for 
Moses and Aaron, and inquired of them, who they 
were that purposed to go forth ; apparently con- 
cluding that it was only the adult males : but when 
he found that they determined to go with their 
entire families, and with their flocks and herds also, 
thus leaving behind them neither pledge nor hostage, 
he burst into a paroxysm of rage, and they were 
driven out from his presence with threats of ven- 
geance. Nevertheless, when Pharaoh experienced 
the inconvenience of this plague, he again relented ; 
but again also, on obtaining the usual respite, he 

A supernatural darkness followed, so intense, that 
for three days no one saw another, or ventured to arise 
from his place. But the children of Israel had light 
in their dwellings. There was the same apparent 
concession and reluctance in Pharaoh as before. He 
now proposed to let all the Israelites go forth, not 
excepting even the children ; but desired the flocks 
and herds to be retained; and when informed that 
this could not be, inasmuch as the people must have 
cattle for sacrifices, and that they knew not what the 
Lord would require until they reached the appointed 
place of worship, he was again enraged, and warned 
Moses and Aaron, that if they dared to present them- 
selves again before him, he would certainly put them 
to death. 

Pharaoh 's controversy with his Maker was thus 
brought to a crisis. The Lord had endured with 
much long-suffering this vessel of wrath fitted for 
destruction ; and now proceeds to make a signal 
example of him. At the same time much solemn 


preparation was made by the Hebrews for their de- 
parture. Jehovah warned them, that he was about 
to destroy the first-born in every family in Egypt, 
and that then they would not only be permitted to 
go forth, but urgently thrust out, and should despoil 
the Egyptians. They were therefore to be prepared 
for their Exodus: they were to have their bread 
ready kneaded, and their troughs bound up with 
their clothes; and they were directed to borrow of 
their Egyptian neighbours jewels of gold and silver 
and raiment. But, above all, they were commanded 
to institute a solemn festival in commemoration of 
this event, and to make the night which was approach- 
ing the beginning of a new year, or era. Each family 
was directed to take a male and unblemished lamb 
of the first year, and having killed it, to strike the 
blood on the two side-posts or jambs of the house- 
door and upon the lintel, and then to eat the flesh 
roasted and with bitter herbs. They are assured, 
that when the destroying angel should smite the 
first-born, he should pass over the houses thus sprin- 
kled with the blood of the Iamb, and that the afflic- 
tion should not visit them ; for which reason the 
ordinance was called the Pass-over. 

Moses ran the hazard of his life in making this 
last communication to Pharaoh of the vengeance 
intended ; and having announced it, he waited not 
for a reply, but the meek prophet went away in 
anger, and Pharaoh retired in sullen disquietude to 
his chamber. And it came to pass that the stillness 
of midnight was interrupted by a cry of distress, which 
was re-echoed from every family ; for the Lord smote 
the first-born throughout the land, there was not a 
house in which there was not one dead. And now 


Pharaoh himself sent for Moses and Aaron, without 
waiting for the daylight, and in the anguish of his 
heart desired them to go forth, with their wives, their 
little ones, and flocks and herds, and to serve the 
Lord, and bless him also. And when the Israelites 
would borrow of the Egyptians, such was the awe 
inspired in the breasts of all, toward Israel in gene- 
ral and Moses in particular, and such the fear of God 
likewise experienced by some, that they vied with 
each other in offering their precious commodities, 
and were eager and urgent to hasten their depar- 
ture. And Israel went forth the same night, in number 
600,000 men, besides women and children, 1 and much 

A mixed multitude likewise joined themselves to 
the Hebrews, and went forth with them ; from which 
it is evident that among the Egyptians also God had 
his election, whom he called out, before he executed 
judgment. It is probable that in the days of Joseph, 
the whole nation was more or less brought to the 
acknowledgment of the truth of God ; though the 
knowledge of Jehovah had afterwards, as is evident, 
greatly decayed. Nevertheless, we are informed that 
when the plague of hail was denounced, some believed 
the word of the Lord, and placed their cattle and ser- 

i The large number of the Hebrews here recorded has appeared an 
insuperable difficulty to many, considering that the family of Jacob 
was but seventy persons, when he came into Egypt only 215 years 
before. Dr. Jahn supposes the servants are not included in the ear- 
lier enumeration, and therefore that a greater number went down 
with Jacob. This is probable, for certainly the females are excluded. 
(Gen. xlvi. 26.) Dr. Jahn however makes the period of their stay in 
Egypt longer by upwards of 200 years than it really was, which would 
again embarrass his view. But the principal circumstance to bear in 
mind is, that the increase of the Israelites did not proceed in the ordi- 
nary ratio of the increase of population in those days, but is declared 
to have been owing to a special and signal blessing of God. (Ex. i. 7.) 


vants under proper shelter ; which was a greater ex- 
ercise of faith on their part, from the fact that rain 
was unknown to them. And it would appear also that 
the series of judgments, which had recently been 
witnessed, had convinced many and inclined their 
hearts toward the Lord's people ; whence it may rea- 
sonably be presumed that "the mixed multitude," 
consisted chiefly of persons thus convinced. 

The Lord conducted the Israelites on their march 
iu a remarkable manner. He made manifest his 
presence among them by a visible appearance in the 
heavens, which assumed the form of a cloud by day, 
intercepting the rays of the sun, and shielding them 
from its sultry heat; whilst in the night it appeared 
as a column of fire, which afforded them light for all 
purposes, and directed them also in their course. 

But a great trial of faith was yet in reserve for 
the Israelites. The direct route from Goshen to 
Canaan was round the northern point of the Red 
sea ; but the Lord, who preceded them in the cloud 
or pillar of fire, led them not by this course, lest 
they, who were unaccustomed to arms, should be 
alarmed at the prospect of having to fight their 
way through a warlike people, and immediately be 
discouraged. 1 He conducted them therefore by the 
way of the wilderness, from Rameses to Succoth, 
and by Etham, from whence they were specially di- 
rected to turn and encamp before Pihahiroth, be- 
tween Migdol and the sea, opposite to Baalzephon, 

* This is the reason assigned in holy writ j and it renders manifest 
tiie error of those who have too hastily concluded, that the warfare, 
waged by the Israelites against the nations of Canaan, proceeded from 
the policy of Moses, who was desirous of indulging their habitual in- 
clination ; whereas their whole history up to this period evinces that 
they were a people altogether unused to war. 


which was on the other side. Judging from human 
principles, it was impossible for a people, who were 
probably not armed, and who were endeavouring to 
evade a numerous and powerful enemy, to have 
taken up a more unskilful position. They were en- 
closed within a narrow ravine or valley, with steep 
acclivities on each side, and the impassable waters 
of the Red sea in front of them ; and if an enemy 
followed by entering the valley from Rameses, their 
destruction appeared inevitable. 1 

' Much difference of opinion exists with regard to the precise 
locality of this place; and also with respect to the part of Egypt in 
which Rameses and Goshen were situate. First, it may be useful to 
observe, that Lower Egypt is commonly called in the scriptures the 
land of Metzir, or Mizraim. Metzir was the son of Ham or Cham, 
who having left his son Metsir at Zoan, removed to Upper Egypt, and 
settled at Chemys or Chamus. Thus the Copts still call Upper Egypt 
Chamij and the Arabians call Lower Egypt Metsir or Mestre. In 
Psalm lxxviii. 12 ; cv. 23 ; and vi. 22, Lower Egypt is called the land 
of Ham, for the reason above named, that Ham first possessed 
it, and relinquished it to his son. According to Sanchoniatho, 
Metsir signifies well-freed ; and Pharaoh in Hebrew signifies the same, 
being derived from ^1Q. The seat of empire, at the time when 
Moses was in Egypt, has been variously placed at Zoan, Tanis, 
Thebes, and Memphis. The first is the more probable, inasmuch as 
the marvels performed by Moses are said in the scriptures to have 
been wrought " in the field of Zoan." (Psalm lxxviii.) Pi-hahiroth, 
the place where the Israelites encamped, signifies in Hebrew the 
mouth of Hiroth, or the mouth of holes. The Septuagint renders it 
TOfxa Etpwd. Bishop Clogher therefore supposes it to have been 
at the end or debouche of a large glen, opening into the sea, between 
the two mountains now called Jebel Attaka and Jebel Gewobee. Dr. 
Shaw states that the Arabs still call it " the road of the children of 
Israel ; " and that the name Attaka signifies deliverance. (Shaw's Tra- 
vels, p. 346.) Some interesting remarks upon this subject, by the Pere 
Sicard, appearedin the Jewish Expositor for 1818. He supposes indeed 
the capital of Pharaoh to have been Memphis ; but a subsequent de- 
scription of the valley above-mentioned is equally to the point in hand. 
He observes, that the route from Memphis to the Red sea leads into a 
ravine of inaccessible rocks on each side ; and that this is the only route 
by which the Israelites could have arrived at the Red sea in three days, 
according to the text. That the road in that case was between the 
mount now called Diouchi and mount Torah, and that it issues, by 
fetching a compass round the mountains at Etham, instead of crossing 


Their flight was favoured by the circumstance that 
the Egyptians were occupied for a day or two in pre- 
paring for and burying their dead ; (Numb, xxxiii. 4.) 
but no sooner was the report brought to Pharaoh 
that they fled, than both he and his people repented 
that they had suffered the prize so easily to escape 
them. Observing however the apparent error in 
their tactics, he immediately pursued after them, 
with an army consisting of 600 select war-chariots 
and a vast multitude of horse. They soon over- 
took the fugitives ; who, when they saw themselves 
thus pursued by a hostile force, and shut in on 
every side, forgat the Lord that went before them, 
and who had hitherto so marvellously wrought in 
their behalf; and yielding to their fears, they mur- 
mured against Moses. But they were purposely 
brought into this strait by Jehovah ; who chose by 
them to admonish his people, who may be in difficul- 
ties at any time, that however desperate their condi- 
tion may appear, he will assuredly help and deliver 
them, if they will but put their trust in Him. Moses 
encouraged the people to this effect ; after which they 
were ordered to advance forward on their course. To 
the natural mind such an order was like a command 
to rush upon destruction: since the sea (as before ob- 

them in the plain of Bede, opposite which is the hill Thouairecq. Bede 
signifies, in Arabic, the plain of the unparalleled prodigy, and Thou- 
airecq signifies the mouth of the holes, corresponding to the Hebrew 
Pihahiroth. The modern names of all the places laid down by Sicard, 
correspond in signification with the Hebrew names mentioned in 
Exodus; and a map which accompanies his work shows that the 
narrow passes at Eaal-zephon and Migdol being seized and occupied 
by the Egyptians, the Israelites would be completely hemmed in 
Niebuhr, and Burchhardt after him, supposes the passage to have 
been near the modem Suez ; but this is only because the sea is there 
not more than two miles across. 


served) was immediately before them. But Moses 
was at the same time directed to stretch forth his rod 
over the sea and to divide it; and, lo ! the waters 
obey the word of a man, the Lord causes thera to 
retire backward, by means of a strong east wind, and 
thus " the way of escape " most marvellously and 
unexpectedly presented itself ! 

It would appear from the sacred narrative, that 
the Israelites attempted the passage during the night, 
and that whilst on their march across, the waters 
were kept back like a wall, by means of the same 
wind. 1 The Egyptians, attempting to come near 
them in the night, were baffled by the Lord, who, 
when he ordered the Hebrews to advance, took up 
a position behind them, "so as to be between the 
two hosts. And thus he proved a cloud of darkness 
to the Egyptians, whilst he gave light to the Is- 

About break of day the Egyptians discovered that 
the Israelites were gone, and the means by which 
their escape had been effected, and they therefore 
now attempted the passage in pursuit. But no 
sooner were the Israelites safe across, than Moses 
was again directed to stretch forth his hand over the 
sea; on which the wind suddenly veered round, and 
blew in a contrary direction; 2 the sea rushed back 
again, and the host of Pharaoh was so completely 

1 This greatly confirms Pere Siccard's description of the place. 
The sea is at Thouairecq (he says) about fifteen miles across ; and 
as it was the time of the vernal equinox, if they began their march 
soon after sunset they would have ample time for the accomplishment 
of this distance; and it would require nearly such a distance to occupy 
the time described in the Scriptures. 

2 Compare Exodus xv. 8 and 10, with Exodus xiv. 21 . 


overwhelmed, that not one of them escaped to report 
the news of this catastrophe. 1 

The effect of this marvellous deliverance upon the 
Hebrews was, " that they feared, and believed the 
Lord and his servant Moses. " Their apprehensions 
now vanished ; and they were convinced of the power 
and faithfulness of that God, who had been the object 
of worship and of confidence with their forefathers. 

The women immediately celebrated the event with 
hymns and sacred dances, led on by Miriam, the 
sister of Aaron ; and Moses also composed by in- 
spiration a song- or ode for the occasion, from which 
it appears that the event has a typical aspect, towards 
a yet future and far more extensive and glorious de- 
liverance of God's people, and their final settlement 
in happiness and peace. 

i The question under which of the kings of Egypt it was that this 
calamity took place, is involved in obscurity, arising chiefly, as I ap- 
prehend, from the fact named by Artabanus, that several of the kings 
of Egypt were contemporary with each other; in which case the 
dynasties recorded would necessarily be, in some instances, contem- 
poraneous likewise. Thus Manetho and Berosus, the former an an- 
cient Egyptian historian, and the latter the Chaldean historian, make 
it Cancres or Chencherres. Lysimachus makes it Bocchoris, the 
Saite, " in whose reign a sheep spoke," according to Manetho ; which 
probably is a corrupt tradition of Balaam's ass speaking, which oc- 
curred during the time of Moses. Josephus makes it Tethmosis. 
Tacitus relates that in the reign of Jsis a multitude of Jews left Egypt 
and were conducted into a neighbouring country, under the command 
of Hierosolymus and Judeus ; but that others said they were driven 
out as lepers, and conducted in their journey by Moses, one of the 
exiles. (Hist. lib. v.) Manetho also mentions in another passage, that 
the event took place under Amos, whom he places in his 18th dynasty, 
and who might be contemporary with Chencres. (See Euseb. Prsep. 
Ev. 1. is. Josep. cont. app. lib. i. &c, and Cory's Fragments.) 




[a.m. 2513.] The short period of Hebrew history 
contained in the present chapter is remarkable, 
chiefly for the specimen it affords of the amazing 
unbelief and perverseness of the human heart, (as 
exhibited — not now by Egyptians, but by the Israel- 
ites themselves) ; and of the further manifestations 
which their rebellions called forth of the character 
of their God. 

Only three days after they had witnessed the mar- 
vellous deliverance just recorded, and were pursuing 
their way to Mount Horeb, they became discouraged 
from the want of water ; and their impatience broke 
out into loud expressions of discontent, on finding 
the springs of Marah, when they arrived there, to be 
bitter or brackish. But God miraculously healed 
the waters, and their necessity was relieved. About 
forty days after, a murmuring arose from the want 
of provision, and they openly expressed their regret 
at having quitted Egypt. Again, however, the Lord 
miraculously interposed ; for he was now disciplining 
his froward children, and suffering them to fall into 
these various straits, in order that not only they, but 
all mankind through them, might learn how entirely 

F 2 


dependant they are on him for the supply of their 
temporal wants. (Deut. viii.) 

The nature of the supply demands attention. Be- 
sides a multitude of quails which fell about the 
camp that evening, and were taken in great numbers ; 
every morning afterwards, until their arrival in Ca- 
naan, there was found on the earth a small round 
substance, like hoar frost, which, if gathered before 
sun-rise, hardened, and required either to be ground 
in the mill or pulverized in the mortar. (Numb, xi.) 
The people called it manna, a name derived from the 
Hebrew )J2, which signifies a something unknown 
and peculiar of its kind : and this was used by them 
for bread, during the whole period of their sojourn- 
ing in the wilderness. If this substance was left on 
the ground till after sun-rise, it melted; and if any 
of it was kept in their vessels until the following day, 
it bred worms and became putrid. But a remarkable 
exception was made for the purpose of honouring 
the Sabbath. On the sixth day the people were di- 
rected to gather double the usual quantity ; being 
admonished that none would fall on the seventh day, 
but that the Lord would nevertheless preserve it from 
corruption on that day, although it was kept beyond 
the usual time: all which came to pass, and thus did 
God, on every returning Sabbath, afford a token of 
his power, and of his hallowing the day of rest. The 
fact is curious, as well as instructive in a religious 
point of view, inasmuch as it proves that the Sab- 
bath was known and observed among the Hebrews 
previous to the giving of the. law. A pot of the 
manna was subsequently by divine command depo- 
sited in the ark, and kept uncorrupted from age to 
age; — a standing memorial of God's providential care 


of his people, and an emblem of the enduring and 
incorruptible character of spiritual things. 1 

Notwithstanding the demonstrations of the power, 

1 Much learned criticism has been employed for the purpose 
of showing- that the manna was a substance previously known ; 
whereby the direct miracle is got rid of. Dr. Milman, quoting- from 
Seetzen and Burckhardt, states in his History of the Jews, that it is 
now clearly ascertained to be a natural production, familiar to the 
Arabs, distilled from the thorns of the tamarisk, in the month of June ; 
and that the preternatural circumstances, in the case of the supply to 
the Israelites, consisted in the immense and continual supply of it, and 
in its being- preserved firm and sweet only for the sabbath day. That 
this cannot be the substance described by Moses will appear from 
several considerations. 1st. It is expressly called by the Psalmist 
Angels' food (Psalm lxxviii. 25), which clearly marks it as a substance 
not previously known to man. 2ndly. It is declared that the an- 
cestors or fathers of Israel knew not of it. (Deut. viii. 3.) But Abra- 
ham, Isaac, Jacob, and his twelve sons, had all of them at different 
periods g-one from Canaan to Egypt, and Moses had been previously 
well acquainted with this same wilderness ; wherefore it is scarcely 
possible that had this been a merely natural production of those parts 
it could have been unknown to them, srdly. Seetzen and Burckhardt 
state, that the substance, which they assume to be the manna, is dis- 
tilled from the thorns of the tamarisk. But this does not consist with 
the scripture description, that it fell with the dew upon the camp in the 
night. (Numb. xi. 9.) 4th. They declare that it may be kept for a 
year : whereas Moses states on the contrary, that if it was kept till 
the next day, it bred worms and stank. 5th. They relate that what 
they have met with is produced only in the month of June, and after 
a wet season ; whereas this was first seen by the Israelites at the 
latter end of April or beginning of May, after a season of drought, 
when they had been murmuring for water; and was produced in 
every month, and in all parts of the wilderness, whither the Hebrews 
journied. In no one circumstance does the substance they speak of 
correspond with that described by Moses, excepting its having the 
sweetness of honey. Though Moses combines with this also " the 
taste of fresh oil," which they take no notice of. In regard to the 
colour also of this substance, critics have differed, owing to its being 
described to be of the colour of Bdellium; and bdellium, or bedolah, is 
assumed by some to be a resinous gum of a dusky red brown, some- 
what like myrrh, but inwardly clear, and resembling glue. But the 
word Bedolah, among the Jews, signifies a pearl ; which Bochart 
infers bdellium to be, and states that pearls are found near the mouth 
of the river Pison. This agrees better with the twofold statement of 
Moses, that it appeared as hoar frost, and that it was white, like cori- 
ander seed. The Septuagint renders bdellium, « as crystal,'' and the 
Syriac " white like crystal." 


goodness, and faithfulness of the Lord, just recounted, 
on the removal of the people to Rephidim, they again 
murmured at the want of water, and the spirit of 
insubordination proceeded to such a height, that 
they were about to stone Moses. Upon this he cried 
to the Lord (his only resource in such cases,) and 
was directed to go, accompanied by some of the 
elders as witnesses, to a rock adjacent, on which the 
Lord promised to stand, while Moses struck it with 
his rod ; which was no sooner done than streams of 
water gushed forth from it ; and thus had the people 
a preternatural supply of water, as well as of bread. 1 

Whilst the Hebrews sojourned at Rephidim, they 
were suddenly attacked by the Amalekites : on which 
Moses sent forth a chosen body of men to contend 
with them, under the command of Joshua, his chief 
minister and amanuensis, whilst he ascended the 
neighbouring height, with the rod of God in his 
hand, and engaged in prayer. Aaron and Hur ac- 
companied him; and God so honoured his interces- 
sion, that while he prayed Joshua prevailed, and if 
through weariness he ceased, Amalek prevailed. Per- 
ceiving which, his companions seated him on a stone, 
and staid up his hands until sun-set, by which means 
the victory was secured. The entire event was or- 
dered to be recorded, as an assurance that God would 
avenge them upon Amalek for this unprovoked at- 
tack, and blot out all traces of him from the earth. 

In the third month, the Hebrews removed to the 
wilderness of Sinai. 2 Hitherto they could hardly be 

1 This rock is still an object of interest to the traveller. Doctors 
Shaw and Pococke, who have separately visited it, both describe it 
as a large block of red granite j the channel down which the water 
flowed being still visible, and hollowed out upon it. 

2 In Exod. iii. l, the mount, at the foot of which they encamped, is 


said to have had a political existence. Their fathers 
were independent chieftains or emirs, it is true ; but 
their history is nevertheless that of a family or tribe, 
rather than of a nation. In Egypt, though they be- 
came sufficiently numerous, they were reduced to 
slavery ; and though now emancipated, yet had they 
no organised form of government, nor any visible 
religious polity. At this station, however, they were 
to receive a civil and ecclesiastical constitution, and 
to be formed into a nation ; on which occasion the 
people were required to sanctify themselves during 
three days by much solemn preparation, at the end 
of which God promised to appear. 1 

On the day appointed, a dark and lowering cloud 
was seen upon the mountain, accompanied by thun- 
der and lightning, and other impressive phenomena. 
The mountain appeared enveloped in fire, and shook 
and rocked, as with an earthquake, whilst the smoke 
ascended up as from a vast furnace ; and louder than 
the pealing thunder was heard the sound of a mighty 
trumpet, with long-drawn and intensely increasing 
blast, till the whole multitude, including Moses him- 
self, were seized with fear and trembling. From 
out of the midst of this terrific manifestation God 

called Horeb, but now Sinai, apparently from the circumstance of God 
having appeared there in the bush. For sene is the Hebrew for bushy 
and Mount Sinai literally means the Mount of the Bush. Horeb is 
nevertheless the name of the mountain, Sinai being only one of its 

i This compact is called " the Old Covenant," not with reference to 
the period of its promulgation, but to the time of its being actually 
brought into operation. The Covenant of Grace or Promise, which 
is called the New Covenant, is in reality the oldest of the two, as to 
the period of promulgation, being entered into with Abraham, Isaac, 
and Jacobj (see Gal. iii. 17.) but it was not brought into operation 
until the death of the Testator, Christ, who was the Seed promised 


called to Moses to come up to him into the mount, 
but threatened any other that should attempt it with 
destruction. For the present indeed that threat ap- 
peared unnecessary; for on the descent of Moses, 
the people, overwhelmed with terror, earnestly be- 
sought him to be their medium of communication 
between God and themselves; in which matter God 
accepted them and dismissed them to their tents. 
Thus Moses was constituted a type of the promised 
Messiah, inasmuch as, besides his prophetical cha- 
racter and headship over the people, he became me- 
diator between God and his church. 

Whilst Moses was with Jehovah in the mount, he 
received from him the code of laws appointed for 
the government of the people, some particulars of 
which will be noticed presently. These were pro- 
claimed to the entire congregation 1 through the 
medium of seventy of the elders ; and the people 
with one voice accepted the constitution and pledged 
themselves to obedience. Upon this, Moses com- 
mitted the whole to writing, and having erected an 
altar and offered sacrifice thereon, he again read the 
laws in the audience of ail the people, who a second 
time vowed obedience, and the blood of the sacrifice 
was sprinkled on them as a seal of the pledge given. 

After this ceremony, the seventy elders, who had 
previously been permitted to approach and worship 
at a lower range of the mountain, were invited to 
ascend up higher, and a vision was granted to them 
of the God of Israel— the Eternal Word ; and they 

l The term congregation does not necessarily mean the entire of the 
people, or of the male adults ; but often their representatives only, 
the elders and rulers. Thus the' congregation is said to sit in judg- 
ment, in Numbers xxxv. 12, 24, 25, Joshua xx. 6, &c. which can only 
apply to the princes. 


beheld, and ate and drank, and continued unhurt. 
And on their descent Moses again was called up, 
and ascended with Joshua only, leaving Aaron and 
Hur to administer judgment to the people during his 
absence. He remained now forty days in the mount, 1 
in the course of which he received further instruc- 
tions concerning the statutes already delivered to 
him ; he was commanded to erect a tabernacle, ac- 
cording to a pattern given to him, for the solemn and 
stated worship of Jehovah ; and he finally received 
two tablets of stone, on which were graven by the 
Almighty himself ten of the principal and more com- 
prehensive commandments, which are emphatically 
designated " the ten words/' (Exod. xxxiv. 28. Deut. 
iv. 13; x. 4.) 

Whilst Moses was thus having honor and glory 
put upon him from God, a severe trial awaited him 
on his descent. Notwithstanding the exhibition 
which the people had recently witnessed of the power 
of God, the long and unexplained absence of their 
leader was sufficient to move them to cast off the 
bonds of allegiance to Jehovah, to treat his servant 
Moses with levity and contempt, and with an in- 
conceivable fickleness and depravity to rush back at 
once into flagrant idolatry. Though they had so re- 
cently vowed that they would have none other gods 

1 Some obscurity attaches to the mode in which the different ascents 
of Moses and others into the mount is described in the Scriptures, A 
careful consideration. of Exodus xix. and xx. will render it apparent 
that Moses and Aaron were first invited up, the latter probably in 
honour of his priestly office. When they descended, and the people 
had requested Moses to act as Mediator, he went up alone, and 
then the elders (no doubt including 1 Aaron and Hur) were invited up. 
On the descent of these Moses was again called up alone. But it 
should be especially noticed, that in every instance in which Moses 
is said to have gone alone, Joshua was nevertheless included with 
him. See Ex. xxiv, 12, 13 ; xxxii. 17, &c. 


but Jehovah, they now congregated about Aaron, 
and importuned him to make them gods ; whilst 
Aaron, who had been left as magistrate to restrain 
them from evil, is overcome by their tumultuous and 
menacing conduct, and shamefully yields. He de- 
manded of them to bring him their ear-rings, which 
being readily contributed, he formed of them the 
image of a calf; which they received with acclama- 
tions, and exclaimed, " These be thy gods, O Israel, 
which brought thee up out of the land of Egypt." 
Encouraged by this, Aaron next erected an altar to 
it, and appointed a sacrifice and festival to be holden 
on the morrow : and it is worthy of remark, that in 
order to cajole his own conscience, he proclaims it 
a feast to Jehovah ; as if it were designed for him, 
though visibly and actually in honour of the idol. 1 

The Lord apprised Moses of what was now going 
forward among the people, and proposed in his anger 
to consume them all, and to make of his posterity a 
great nation in their stead ; which called forth a 
burst of disinterested patriotism from Moses in his 
mediatorial character, who earnestly deprecated from 
himself the proffered glory, and pleaded affectionately 
for Israel. And he who by the Spirit moved his 
servant thus to entreat for his people, was of course 
prepared to grant that, which was in reality an inter- 
cession according to his own will, 

i Ex. xxxii. 5. This is precisely the excuse which Papists malte for 
their image-worship ; and which the heathen before them alleged for 
their idolatries. (See Cic. de Nat. Deorum, and Jul. Fragm. p. 292.) 
Bishop Horsley, and after him Biddulph, in his Theology of the 
Patriarchs, imagine the calf to have been intended by Aaron as a re- 
presentation of the cherubic creature. However this may be, it does 
not alter the idolatrous character of the proceeding j for the scripture 
reproves Israel on this occasion for "changing their Glory into the 
similitude of an ox that eateth grass." (Psalm cvi.) 


But though Moses had thus successfully inter- 
ceded for Israel, he was not wanting in holy zeal and 
indignation against their criminal proceeding. No 
sooner did he come within sound of their apostate 
revelry, and witness their dancing and festivity, than 
in a transport of passion he cast from him the tables 
which he had received from the Lord, and broke 
those precepts literally, which Israel had already 
broken morally. Nor did his anger end here. He 
took the calf which they had made, and burnt it in 
the fire, and ground it into powder, and mixing the 
dust thereof with water, he compelled the Israelites 
to drink it. 1 He next severely rebuked Aaron ; and 
then, at the command of the Lord, directed the Le- 
vites, who had now come to his aid, to take each his 
sword, and passing through the camp to slay all that 
they met. Three thousand persons thus paid the 
penalty of this transgression with their lives ; and 
Aaron himself would have been among the number, 
but for his brother's sake. (Deut. ix. 20.) 

Having thus vindicated the honor of Jehovah, 
Moses earnestly renewed his intercession for the 
mass of the people, which the Lord graciously heark- 
ened to, and spared the remainder of Israel ; though 

1 The following observations by M. Goguet on this subject, 
quoted in the work of Mr. Wilkinson on the Ancient Egyptians, will 
be read with interest. " Commentators have been much perplexed 
to explain how Moses burnt and reduced the gold to powder. Many 
have offered vain and improbable conjectures; but an experienced 
chemist has removed every difficulty on the subject, and has sug- 
gested this simple process. In the place of tartaric acid, which we 
employ, the Hebrew legislator used natron, which is common in the 
East. What follows, respecting his making the Israelites drink this 
powder, proves that he was perfectly acquainted with the whole effect 
of the operation. He wished to increase the punishment of their dis- 
obedience, and nothing could have been more suitable : for gold, re- 
duced and made into a draught, in the manner I have mentioned, has 
a most disagreeable taste." (L'origin des Lois, &c. tome ii. p. 145.) 


lie nevertheless brought many plagues on them after- 
wards, expressly on account of this transaction. (Ex. 
xxxii. 35.) 

Moses was now again invited up into the Mount, 
where he continued another forty days, during which 
period the law was renewed, and strict injunctions 
added against intermarrying with the idolatrous na- 
tions round about, or attending their feasts or sacri- 
fices ;— a prohibition rendered the more necessary by 
the recent transgression of the people. At this time 
also Moses made particular request to God to be per- 
mitted to behold his glory. What his precise ex- 
pectation was is not obvious ; though by the answer 
given, that no man could behold the face, or presence, 
of the Lord and live, it probably had a reference to 
that effulgent light or glory in which God dwelietli, 
and to which no man in his present fallen condition 
can approach. (1 Tim. vi. 16.) The fact however de- 
mands the notice of the historian, inasmuch as it led 
to a declaration of certain attributes of the God of 
the Hebrews, which serve more fully to develope his 
character. A voice proclaimed a glory to Moses 
which was as yet but little considered, though con- 
tinually experienced by the Hebrews ; and God was 
announced as " The Lord, the Lord God, merciful 
and gracious, long-suffering, and abundant in good- 
ness and truth ; keeping mercy for thousands, forgiv- 
ing iniquity, and transgression and sin ; but that will 
by no means clear the guilty : visiting the iniquity of 
the fathers upon the children, and upon the children's 
children, unto the third and fourth generation." The 
contrast with the gods worshipped by the nations 
round about was striking. None of them even pre- 
tended to the attributes of love, mercy, forbearance 


and long-suffering ; on the contrary, cruelty and 
impurity were the general characteristics both of the 
heathen deities and their worshippers. And the fact, 
that the Hebrews did nevertheless continually revolt 
from a God so transcending in glory, and turned to 
v/retched idols, can only be accounted for by a view 
of the natural depravity of the human heart, with the 
corrupt propensities of which the abominations of 
idolatry are congenial. 

Having finally descended, Moses next commenced 
preparations for erecting the tabernacle. The people 
were invited to make offerings for the work of the 
most costly articles possessed by them ; — gold, silver 
and brass ; blue, purple, scarlet and fine linen ; bad- 
gers', goats' and rams' skins, the latter being dyed 
red; onyx and other precious stones ; shittim wood, 
and oil, and spices for the offerings, &x. And to 
their credit, in this instance, it is recorded, that they 
offered so willingly and abundantly, notwithstanding 
the great quantity required, that Moses was obliged 
to cause proclamation to be made throughout the 
camp, to restrain them from bringing more. 

[a.m. 2514.] The remainder of the year was occu- 
pied in preparation ; at the end of which, all being 
completed and approved, on the first day of the 
second year of Israel's deliverance, the Tabernacle 
was reared up with great solemnity without the camp. 
No sooner was it erected, than the bright cloud or 
shechinah descended upon it and covered it, and 
the glory of the Lord filled it. On the seventh day 
after it was reared up, (i.e. on the 8th day of the 
month,) the first sacrifices were offered in its courts, 
on which occasion fire came out from before the 
Lord, and consumed the burnt-offering upon the 


altar, as a token of his acceptance of it; which when 
the people saw, they shouted and fell on their faces. 

After the tabernacle-worship was thus commenced, 
the symbol of the Divine presence constantly rested 
upon it, when the people were required to rest; and 
arose from off it, as a signal that they were to march ; 
the appearance being, as before, that of a cloud by 
day, and of fire by night. And the Lord put this 
distinguishing honor upon Moses, that when he re- 
sorted to the tabernacle for counsel, the Shechinah 
descended from over its roof to the door, and pre- 
vented all other entrance; and thus Jehovah con- 
ferred face to face, as it were, with Moses, in the 
presence of all the people : on whom the effect of 
this testimon}^ was so impressive, and begat in them 
such a reverence for Moses, that whenever on these 
occasions he proceeded to the tabernacle, they rose 
up to the door of their tents, and followed him with 
their eyes ; and when the Shechinah descended, the 
whole simultaneously worshipped the Lord, each in 
the door of his tent. 

Scarcely was the public worship of God esta- 
blished, when Aaron was called to endure afflic- 
tion, arising from the criminal indifference of his 
sons Nadab and Abihu, who were appointed priests. 
Disregarding the appointed ritual, they offered strange 
fire (or, as some think, strange incense,) in their cen- 
sers. It was a contempt of His express commands in 
this matter, which the Lord thought proper to visit 
severely in the outset ; that all might be impressed 
with the importance which he attaches to a due sub- 
ordination to his ordinances. They were accordingly 
struck dead by fire from the Lord ; and Aaron was 
forbidden to manifest any of the usual demonstrations 


of grief. From the precept which immediately fol- 
lows the relation of this event, viz.— "that the sons of 
Aaron should not drink wine nor strong drink, when 
they go into the tabernacle/' it has been inferred 
that they were in a state of intoxication when they 
committed this oifence. 

An important modification in the manner of ad- 
ministering judgment was adopted also about this 
period, which arose from Jethro, the father-in-law of 
Moses, visiting the camp. Observing the arduous 
labours of Moses, who both presided as judge in all 
matters of litigation, and expounded the statutes re- 
cently given to them, Jethro suggested the appoint- 
ment of a more numerous magistracy, who might hear 
and determine ordinary suits, whilst Moses should 
reserve the more difficult cases for himself, and con- 
tinue his stated instructions to the people on the 
new ordinances. The suggestion was approved, and 
Moses appointed magistrates of various rank, having 
jurisdiction over thousands, hundreds, fifties, and 
some even over so limited a number as ten families. 1 

Another modification of the civil government fol- 
lowed soon after; the immediate occasion of which 
was the continued mutinous and discontented spirit 
of the people, who now began to loath the manna 
which was sent them, and to lust for flesh, whilst the 
voice of weeping and regret for their former diet in 
Egypt (which had consisted chiefly of fish, melons, 
cucumbers, leeks, onions, and garlick, Numb. xi. 5,) 
was to be heard in every tent. Moses was greatly dis- 

1 The descendants of Jethro have been found still existing in the 
East by Dr. Wolff. They call themselves the children of Hobab, who 
was son of Jethro. The Rechabites are descended from the same, 
and were found by Dr. Wolff near Sanaa, in Arabia Felix. 


cou raged, and complained to the Lord that it was too 
heavy, a burthen for him, to have singly to bear the 
reproaches and rebellions of the people ; upon which 
he was directed permanently to associate with himself 
in the government the seventy elders who had been 
previously selected as an aid to him in the promulga- 
tion of the lav/. According to the unanimous decla- 
ration of the Jewish Rabbins this was the foundation 
or origin of the great council of the nation, which 
at a later period was called the Sanhedrin. 1 As 
these seventy were the princes and chief elders and 
officers of the tribes, the government was now osten- 
sibly an aristocracy, which indeed Josephus calls it : 
for this assembly formed a house of peers, over which 
Moses was head or president. In reality, however, 
the constitution was a theocracy, since Moses con- 
sulted the Lord on all occasions of difficulty, and 
received from him continual guidance and directions, 
to which the council was subject. This council does 
not appear to have altogether superseded the office of 
those previously appointed by Moses to be rulers of 
thousands, hundreds, &c. ; on the contrary, when the 
people were at length settled in Canaan, these evi- 
dently exercised the functions of municipal magis- 

Soon as the seventy elders were convened, the Lord 

l The word Sanhedrin Yf m >T[T\'20 is supposed to be derived from 
the Greek uvvefipiov, which is one reason why Christian writers have 
concluded that the council of seventy was discontinued after the time 
of Moses, and not revived till after the captivity. A more remarkable 
fact is, that there is no express mention of this council in the Holy 
Scriptures, after Moses until the time of Christ. At the same time 
this is by no means conclusive ; for there is frequent mention of some 
sort of assemblage being consulted, consisting of elders, &c , and de- 
termining on matters of importance ; and the unanimous testimony 
of the Rabbins is not to be disregarded. (See Selden de Synedreis, 
lib.ii. c. iv. 8.; 


in a signal manner recognised and established their 
authority before the people, by granting to them the 
same spirit of prophecy which he had vouchsafed to 
Moses; and a circumstance occurred on this occa- 
sion, which, as it afforded an evidence of the humi- 
lity of Moses, and will hereafter also require notice, 
may be recorded in its proper place. Two of the 
seventy, named Eldad and Medad, being ceremoni- 
ally unclean, were not assembled with the rest, when 
the Spirit was poured out ; but they were neverthe- 
less visited by the divine afflatus whilst tarrying in 
the camp, and began to prophesy; which circum- 
stance being communicated to Moses, Joshua urged 
him to forbid them ; but Moses answered, " Enviest 
thou for my sake?— Would to God that ail the Lord's 
people were prophets, and that the Lord would put 
his Spirit upon them ! " 

But though the Lord, by the appointment of this 
council, thus relieved Moses, his displeasure was at 
the same time kindled against the murmurers. He 
caused a fire to burst forth upon them, which proved 
calamitous to those who were on the skirts of the 
camp ; (Numb. xi. 1,) and he visited the whole with 
a chastisement in kind, their own lust being made the 
means of inflicting it upon them. He caused vast 
quantities of quails again to fall exhausted about the 
camp ; on which the people went greedily forth, and 
picked them up in abundance. The gluttony indulged 
on this occasion produced a pestilence, which proved 
fatal to multitudes, insomuch that it is recorded as 
" a very great plague." These things took place after 
they had broken up from Mount Sinai, at a station 
afterwards named Kibroth Hattaavah, which signifies 


"the graves of the greedy," because there they buried 
those who died from this pestilence. 

Scarcely had this chastisement passed away, when 
a new source of uneasiness arose to Moses, the authors 
of which were no other than Aaron and Miriam. They 
were envious, it seems, of the exclusive distinction 
which God put upon Moses in his communications 
with him; though there is divine testimony in his 
behalf, that no man could have carried himself with 
more of meekness, or have been less assuming under 
so great honour. Miriam acted the chief part in this 
sedition, alleging, as the pretended ground of dissa- 
tisfaction, that the wife of Moses was a foreigner : l 
apparently availing herself of the recent command 
against intermarriages with strangers. Both she 
and Aaron arrogantly claimed equality with Moses, 
on the ground that God had as much spoken by them 
as by him ; for both were endued with the Spirit of 
prophecy. The Lord however suddenly interrupted 
the controversy by demanding their presence at the 
tabernacle ; where he vindicated Moses, rebuked his 
accusers, and smote Miriam, who appears to have 
been the most culpable, with leprosy. Aaron was 

1 She is called in the sacred narrative a Cushite, (Numb. xii. ],) 
which is translated an Ethiopian ; and was apparently an Arabian, 
descended from Abraham by Keturah. 

The Abbe Fleury brings forward this instance of Moses marrying 
Zipporab, as a proof that the command not to marry the daughters of 
the heathen round about was limited to the Canaanites only. He for- 
gets that Moses was married long prior to this command. He instances 
also Boaz, who married Ruth the Moabitess, and Solomon, who mar- 
ried the daughter of the king of Egypt. But Ruth was evidently 
joined to the people of God, and a woman of piety: and the Israelites, 
we shall find, are presently reproved for their intercourse with the 
daughters of Moab. And the case of Solomon also, instead of beiDg 
approved, is condemned; inasmuch as the Scriptures ascribe his ido- 
latries to his being seduced by his heathenish wives. 


again humbled, and entreated Moses to intercede for 
Miriam; with which entreaty Moses readily com- 
plied, and she was healed. She was nevertheless or- 
dered to be put out of the camp for a week ; and the 
march of the people, though the cloud was taken up, 
was delayed during that period, that her public dis- 
grace might be more evident, and operate as a warn- 
ing to others. 

[a.m. 2514.]— The Hebrews having next arrived at 
a place afterwards called Kadesh Barnea, on the 
borders of Canaan, Moses, at the suggestion of the 
people, sent forth spies to explore the country. One 
person of distinction was chosen from each tribe for 
this important service, Joshua being selected out of 
Ephraim, and Caleb out of Judah. The remaining 
ten appear to have been terror struck ; and on their 
return reported among the people, that the country 
swarmed with inhabitants, that some of them were 
giants, and that their cities were walled up to hea- 
ven ; and though they had brought to Moses, as spe- 
cimens of the fruits of the land, pomegranates and 
figs of superior growth, and a bunch of grapes of such 
amazing size that it was obliged to be borne by two 
of them upon a staff, yet they equally misrepresented 
the character of the country, asserting that it was so 
sterile as to eat up its inhabitants, instead of sup- 
porting them. Palpable as was the contradiction 
between such a statement and the previously alleged 
myriads and giant stature of the inhabitants, the fears 
and prejudices of the multitude were nevertheless too 
easily wrought upon, and a general consternation 
spread throughout the camp. The night was passed 
in womanish wailings and complaints ; they lamented 
over their little ones, as if they were a certain prey 
G 2 


for the sword ; and in the morning they actually re- 
volted from Moses, and proceeded to choose a leader 
to conduct them back again into Egypt. In vain did 
Joshua and Caleb endeavour to disabuse them of 
their erroneous apprehensions ; in vain did they ex- 
press their own confidence that the Canaanites were 
morally conquered already, and that if Israel did but 
put their trust in God they would easily prevail : 
the whole multitude called out to stone them; and 
both they and Moses and Aaron would have fallen 
victims to their violence, had not the glory of the 
Lord again suddenly appeared, and awed them into 

This people had now not only repeatedly provoked 
the Spirit of the Lord, notwithstanding the signs and 
wonders and the abundant mercies manifested to 
them ; but they had in this instance " despised the 
pleasant land," and made light of the promised glory. 
He therefore now proceeds to execute severe judg- 
ment upon them. The ten elders, who by their mis- 
representations had excited this sedition, were smitten 
with the plague and immediately cut off. And the 
whole population above 20 years of age were doomed 
to exclusion from Canaan, and to wander in the wil- 
derness, until the whole of them should be overtaken 
by death. On the other hand, Caleb and Joshua were 
honoured by distinguished promises to them and their 

The fruits of this rebellion, and also of the apos- 
tacy of the people in the instance of the calf, are 
instructive in a national point of view. Men are 
prone to treat what they call merely political offences 
with lightness; and the plagues which may follow 
are attributed to accidental or independent causes ; 


but these two instances clearly evince, that national 
delinquencies are in due season sure to be overtaken 
by national chastisements. 

The perverseness of the people now exhibited itself 
in an opposite manner. Afflicted at the sentence an- 
nounced to them by Moses, and desirous to wipe off 
the reproach of their previous pusillanimity, they de- 
termined of their own accord, and spite of the re- 
monstrances of Moses, to attack the inhabitants of 
the hill-country before them. Ascending therefore 
into Mount Hor without their leader, and without 
the ark of the covenant, they were discomfited by the 
combined forces of the Amalekites and Canaanites, 
and pursued with considerable loss to Hormah. 1 

One might have concluded, that the chastisements, 
which invariably fell upon this people for their trans- 
gressions, would have proved sufficient to convince 
them of the vanity and danger of walking contrary 
to the way of God's appointment. But soon after 
the events just recorded, a rebellion broke out of a 
more formidable character than any which had pre- 
ceded it. It was produced by the ambition of Korah, 
a Levite of distinction, who secretly coveted the 
office of high priest, now enjoyed by Aaron ; and two 
Reubenite chieftains, named Dathan and Abiram, 
who were equally ambitious to wrest the civil au- 

1 These Amalekites were Arabians, descendants of Cush, and are 
sometimes called Horites, from their location in mount Hor, where 
this action took place. The Canaanites who united with them on this 
occasion are in Deut. i. called Amorites, all Canaan being sometimes 
termed, "the land of the Amorite." (See Amos ii. 9, 10, and note, 
page 9.) This same Mount Hor is likewise called Mount Seir ; not 
that it is the same with that Seir, east of Jordan, in the land of Moab, 
which Esau took possession of; but because Seir, a descendant of 
his, conquered and drove out the inhabitants. He is called, by way 
of distinction, " Seir the Horite." Gen. xxxvi. 20. 


thority from the hands of Moses. 1 By their personal 
influence, and by plausible and artful statements of 
a democratic tendency, they drew into their con- 
spiracy two hundred and fifty of the principal chiefs 
and rulers, together with their numerous dependants. 
They questioned the right of Moses to the sove- 
reignty exercised by him, and of Aaron to the priest- 
hood; and they insisted upon the claim of every 
individual of the congregation to have a share in the 
government, and to offer incense to the Lord in their 
own persons. They affected to be moved in all this 
by a zeal for Jehovah, a superior measure of consid- 
eration for his people, and a desire to advance the 
interests of religion ; whilst at the same time they 
were pursuing measures directly calculated to sub- 
vert the ordinances of God's appointment. Every 
man's pride however was flattered, and his natural 
envy gratified, by doctrines which degraded their 
rulers to their own level, and asserted the equal holi- 
ness and dignity of the entire congregation; and 
they readily therefore took part in the rebellion. 

But the Lord was not slow to vindicate his own 
majesty and the authority of his anointed delegates. 
At his command Moses directed Korah and the 250 
nobles to take each a censer, and to lay incense 
thereon, and to appear on the morrow before the 
tabernacle ; declaring that the Lord would then make 
manifest whom he had chosen. He likewise sum- 

l Both the priestly office and the Lordship belonged of right to the 
first-born, which was Reuben ; but that was now taken away from 
them by the Levitical law, which probably was one cause of their 
engaging in this rebellion. The privilege of ministering in holy 
things was given to the Levites, and therefore already enjoyed by 
Korah ; but the office of priest, was limited to those Levites who were 
of the family of Aaron, which therefore excluded Korah. 


moned Dathan and Abiram to come up, but they 
flatly refused, and returned an insulting answer. At 
the time appointed Korah appeared, but with a men- 
acing and imposing attitude ; being accompanied 
not only by the nobles whose attendance was re- 
quired, but also by a large multitude of the people. 
The seventy chosen elders, with their families and 
followers, seem to have formed the only exceptions 
to the revolt, and to have been equally the objects 
of the popular odium. 

The glory of Jehovah again appeared, and Moses 
then proceeded to admonish the whole assembly, 
that if these evil men (meaning their leaders,) should 
die an ordinary death, then it should be understood 
that the Lord had not spoken by him ; but that if the 
Lord should make a new thing come to pass, and 
the earth should open her mouth and swallow them 
up alive, then they were to understand that it was 
the testimony of God to his authority. He next pro- 
ceeded with the seventy to the tents of Dathan and 
Abiram, and warned the people to remove from their 
vicinity and depart, lest they also should be involved 
in their calamity. Whilst the people but slowly 
moved away, the ground clave asunder, and the tents 
of Dathan and Abiram went down, with their in- 
mates shrieking, into the yawning chasm ; whilst at 
the same moment fire came forth from the Lord, and 
burnt up Korah and the nobles who stood before the 
tabernacle. 1 

i From a comparison of Numbers xxvi. 11. and Deut. xi. 6. with 
Numbers xvi. it appears that only the children and household of 
Dathan and Abiram were swallowed up j and that Korah and the 250 
perished by fire, but not their children. The destruction of this com- 
pany possesses the greater interest from the circumstance that Korah 
is named, in the epistles of Peter and Jude, as a type of those prin- 
ciples which will characterize the apostacy of the last days. 


The insurrection however was not even now sub- 
dued. No sooner had the beholders recovered from 
their terror, than they began to accuse Moses and 
Aaron of being the murderers of God's people ; their 
perverted sympathies being excited in behalf of the 
enemies of God ; and their murmurings being in 
reality directed against Jehovah himself, by whose 
Spirit Moses had denounced the rebels and predicted 
the manner of their death. But the tender mercies 
of the wicked are always cruel. If by the exercise 
of a spurious charity they could have prevented the 
punishment of the transgressors, a state of confusion 
and apostacy would have followed, which would have 
involved the whole multitude in destruction : and as 
it was, they provoked further chastisement, and 
brought wrath thereby upon the congregation ; who 
were smitten with pestilence whilst they were 
still gathered together. Moses no sooner perceived 
this further calamity, than, forgetting his wrongs, 
he directed Aaron immediately to take a censer, 
and make intercession ; whereby the plague was 
stayed, though not till it had destroyed 14,700 

God condescended in conclusion to give a further 
testimony, by way of shewing whom he had chosen 
to the priesthood. He commanded each tribe to 
take a rod of the almond tree, and inscribe on it the 
name of the prince of their tribe, and to deposit the 
whole in the tabernacle ; promising that the rod of 
the family which he had chosen should bud. On the 
morrow the rod of Aaron was found bearing leaves, 
blossoms, and even fruit ; whereupon it was ordered 
to be laid up with the furniture of the sanctuary, for 
a perpetual memorial against the rebels, and to re- 


mind the people of the true source of the authority 
of the sons of Levi. 

[a.m. 2552.] About 37 years now passed away, 
during which little is recorded but the journeyings of 
the people from one place to another, until they ar- 
rived in the wilderness of Zin, or Tsin. Here Miriam 
died ; and here the people were again distressed for 
want of water. Most of that generation which had 
seen the miracle at the rock in Horeb were now de- 
ceased ; and it has been asserted, of the generation 
which had risen up in their place, that they were 
more trained to obedience to Jehovah by the judg- 
ments and wonders they had so repeatedly witnessed. 1 
But the history does not bear out the remark : for no 
sooner were they proved by the Lord, in the same 
manner as their fathers, than they immediately be- 
trayed the same spirit as their fathers ; murmuring 
against God and against Moses, and regretting that 
they had not died with those who perished in the last 
rebellion. The Lord again purposed to afford them 
a miraculous supply, and he commanded Moses to 
speak to the rock which was now before them. But 
in this instance Moses failed, and came short of the 
glory of God. He appears to have been much ex- 
cited and perturbed in spirit, and to have struck the 
rock with his rod, instead of only speaking to it as 
directed ; and contrary to the meekness and humility 
for which he was so eminent, he spake unadvisedly 
with his lips, (Psalm cvi. 32, 33,) calling the people 
rebels, and asking " Shall we bring you water out of 
this rock?" — as if the power of so doing belonged to 
Aaron and himself. The Lord refused not his testi- 

1 See Burnet's Boyle's Lecture, vol. ii. p. 193. 


mony, and the waters again gushed forth ; but he 
nevertheless charged both Moses and Aaron with un- 
belief and rebellion against his word, and with fail- 
ing to sanctify him ; declaring that they should not 
have the privilege of leading Israel into Canaan. 1 
(Numb. xx. 12, 24.) To many the offence of Moses 
will probably appear but trivial ; and they will won- 
der that a man, who had exhibited so much faith and 
meekness, and had endured such repeated provoca- 
tions from his countrymen, when disinterestedly seek- 
ing their welfare, should, for failing to glorify God 
on one trying occasion, be punished in like manner 
with those who were misled by the report of the spies. 
The event is calculated to set forth only so much the 
more strikingly the holiness and jealousy of God, who 
will not pass over in those, who are more eminently 
partakers of his grace, what might possibly be winked 
at in men of inferior spiritual attainments. That the 
sentence had nothing to do with the ultimate portion 
of Moses is evident from his being ages afterwards 
seen transfigured in glory on Mount Tabor; but God 
considered the effect of Moses' example upon others; 
and for their sakes inflicted temporal punishment 
upon him. (Deut. iii. 26. Luke ix. 30, 31.) 

Aaron died shortly after this event, in the 123rd 
year of his age, and was buried on the top of Mount 
Hor; where the place of his interment is still conspi- 
cuous. After having mourned for him thirty days, the 
people set forth to compass the land of Edom, with a 

l Both this rock and the one in Horeb were called. Meribah, i.e. 
Temptation ; but the former was likewise called Massah, i. e. chiding 
or strife; and this, in the wilderness of Zin, was called Meribah- 
Kadesh, near which it was situate. Dr. Pococke states that a rock is 
still shown in these parts, traditionally called by the Arabs " the rock 
of God," down which likewise a water channel is traceable. 


purpose at length of actually entering Canaan. For 
the Edomites had sternly refused to give them a pas- 
sage through their territories, though they offered 
payment for the supplies they might require; and 
they were strictly forbidden by the Lord to attack the 
Edomites, and also the Moabites and Ammonites, 
because they were brethren ; the one being, as 
already related, the children of Esau, and the two 
latter the posterity of the daughters of Lot. The cir- 
cuit which the people were consequently obliged to 
make led them by the most rugged and desolate part 
of the wilderness, and they again broke out into mur- 
muring against Moses. God chastised them in this 
instance by bringing on them multitudes of serpents, 
having the appearance of fire, and whose bite was so 
venomous that a great mortality ensued. The people 
in this instance humbly acknowledged their sin ; and 
when Moses interceded for them, God directed him 
to make the resemblance of one of these serpents in 
brass, and to rear it up on a pole, declaring that 
those who should go forth and look upon it should be 
healed: which accordingly came to pass, in the in- 
stance of all whose faith and obedience led them to 
comply with the means prescribed. 1 

A series of military achievements concludes the 
history of the wanderings of Israel in the wilder- 
ness. In the previous year, while stationed at Ka- 
desh, they had had a successful encounter with a 
body of Canaanites, whom they utterly destroyed at 
Hormah ; thus wiping out the disgrace of the defeat, 

1 This innocuous brazen serpent was a striking type of Him who, in 
the fulness of time, was made in the likeness of sinful flesh, the seed 
of the serpent, yet without sin ; and who was also lifted up, that 
whosoever helieveth in him should not perish, but have everlasting 
life. (John iii. 14, 15.) 


which they had formerly experienced at the same 
place. And now on their arrival at the territory of 
the Amorites they sent an embassy to request per- 
mission also to pass through their land in a friendty 
manner, promising to commit no damage, and to pay 
for all they might need. The request was not only 
refused, but Sihon their king, rendered confident by 
recent victories over the Moabites, from whom he 
had wrested Heshhon and many other cities, (Numb. 
xxi. 26.) suddenly fell upon the Israelites at Jahaz; 
being infatuated to make this attack, as a judgment 
upon him from God whom he had offended. (Deut. 
ii. 30.) He accordingly met with a signal defeat; 
and the Hebrews took from him Heshbon, his new 
capital, and all the towns from Arnon to Jabbok ; 
and pushing on a considerable force to Jaazer, they 
destroyed or expelled the inhabitants in that direc- 
tion. This is the first time in the history of Israel 
that they became possessed of towns and villages. 

Continuing their march by the way of Bashan, an- 
other enemy presented himself in the person of Og, 
likewise an Amorite prince, and of such gigantic 
stature that his iron couch was nine cubits long. He 
came against Israel with all his forces at Edrei ; but 
the Lord delivered him also into their hand, and they 
overthrew and utterly destroyed him. These two 
victories are frequently referred to in the sacred songs 
or psalms of the Israelites. By this second conquest 
they became possessed of sixty additional walled 
cities, and were masters of the country on the east 
of Jordan from the river Arnon to mount Hermon. 

After these things the entire people encamped in 
their newly acquired territory, in the plains on the 
banks of the Jordan opposite Jericho. This posi- 


tion brought them into the vicinity of Balak, the 
king of Moab, who notwithstanding what had been 
wrested from him by Sihon was still powerful. Struck 
with terror at the signal victories of the Hebrews, he 
made a league against them with the Midianites, 
and the Ammonites residing at Ar, who had also been 
conquered by him. 

There dwelt at this time at Pethor in Mesopota- 
mia an eminent diviner or soothsayer, named Ba- 
laam. (Joshua xiii. 22.) He appears to have been 
not altogether unacquainted with Jehovah, and to 
have been honoured by him at times with divine 
communications ; but covetousness and ambition 
were his besetting sins, to promote which he scru- 
pled not, when the Lord vouchsafed him no commu- 
nication, to resort to the practices of magic. 1 From 
these circumstances, combined with much natural 
shrewdness, he had obtained an extensive reputa- 
tion ; and Balak concluding that, if he could but ob- 
tain the blessing of Balaam on himself, and his curse 
against Israel, his object would be accomplished, 
sent to him an embassy. Being strictly admonished 
of God on this occasion, Balaam refused to accom- 
pany the embassy ; but on another being sent to him, 
consisting of princes of superior rank, having autho- 
rity to assure him of promotion to the highest honours, 
he sought permission to go, notwithstanding the coun- 
sel of God to the contrary had already been expressly 
declared to him. God now in anger suffered him to 
proceed ; intimating however that he himself should 

1 The occasional exercise of the gift of prophecy does not appear 
to have been restricted to holy persons. The seventy elders indis- 
criminately received this gift, some of whom were nevertheless ex- 
ceedingly faulty, and all of them worshippers of the golden calf. 


put a word into his mouth. Arrived in Moab, Ba- 
laam nevertheless does not hesitate to offer sacri- 
fices in the sanctuaries of Baal, and to seek by en- 
chantments and superstitious arts to prevail against 
Israel. Three times was sacrifice offered from three 
different eminences, in the presence of the king of 
Moab and his princes, who awaited the result with 
anxious solicitude : but each time the Lord con- 
founded their expectation, and humbled the pro- 
phet. Notwithstanding the provocations of Israel 
they were still beloved for their fathers' sakes, and 
Balaam was made to declare that God had not beheld 
their iniquity and perverseness ; (in other words, that 
he exercised his sovereign prerogative in pardoning 
them ;) and that he would punish Moab and all nations 
which should be opposed to Israel. This signal coun- 
teraction of the wicked designs of Balaam is likewise 
frequently adverted to, in the sacred writings, as a 
notable instance of God's care for his people. 

Though Balaam was thus frustrated, he neverthe- 
less did not abandon the hope of obtaining the re- 
wards and honors promised to him by Balak. He was 
by some means acquainted with the strict injunctions 
given to Israel against idolatry, and against inter- 
marrying or cohabiting with the daughters of their 
heathen neighbours; and he therefore privately sug- 
gested to the king of Moab, that if he could but 
ensnare the people in this matter, he would bring 
them as effectually under the wrath of God, as if the 
curse were imprecated upon them by his mouth. 
The advice was listened to. The daughters of the 
Moabites were accustomed at the great festivals of 
Baal P^or to prostitute themselves in honor of the 
god ; and one of those festivals being now at hand the 


Israelites were invited to attend. Some were seduced, 
others followed the example, and the moral contagion 
soon spread throughout the camp ; many of the princes 
being also infected by it, and bowing down to the idol. 
The anger of the Lord was indeed kindled, but in the 
way of chastisement and correction, and not as a curse 
to the entire destruction of Israel. The moment the 
intelligence of this new apostacy reached Moses be 
promptly directed the judges of Israel to put to 
death all under their respective authority who had 
joined themselves to Baal Peor. It does not appear 
however that this command was obeyed : the same 
profane reluctance, which had led the people on a 
former occasion to murmur against the righteous se- 
verities of the Lord, now paralyzes the arm of justice, 
and affects to be more merciful than Jehovah him- 
self. Upon this God again visited them with a pes- 
tilence, which commenced its ravages both on the 
actual transgressors, and the apathetic, and no less 
guilty, connivers at their sin. 

Whilst the congregation gathered about the taber- 
nacle, bewailing before the Lord the disastrous con- 
sequences of the plague, an instance occurred of 
shameless defiance of God, and of contempt for the 
authority of Moses, which evinces to what an extent 
the ill-judged forbearance of the magistrates had 
already encouraged the evil. Zimri, a prince of the 
house of Simeon, returned from the Midianitish 
camp, having with him the daughter of one of their 
nobles, and retired with her to his tent in the obser- 
vation of all the people. The circumstance kindled 
the indignation of Phinehas, the son of the high 
priest, who snatching up a javelin, ran after the of- 
fenders into the tent, and slew them both. The 


plague was immediately arrested, the zeal of Phi- 
nehas was specially commended of the Lord, and 
declared to have been the means of having appeased , 
his wrath ; and the people had a practical demonstra- 
tion before them, in the corpses of 24,000 who died 
by the pestilence, how much better it had been for 
the nation if, in the first instance, all the princes had 
been animated by a like jealousy for God. 

The Moabites and Midianites paid still more dearly 
for having thus seduced the Lord's people to trans-: 
gress. Moses selected a chosen body of troops, and 
gave the command to Phinehas, as a distinction for 
his recent conduct. 1 The enemy was powerless be- 
fore them : all the males of that portion of the terri- 
tory attacked were put to death, including five kings, 
and their cities and fortresses were destroyed by fire. 
Among the slain was Balaam, who thus early reaped 
the fruit of his iniquity. The princes and the people 
went forth to meet the army on its return, not one 
single individual of which was either lacking or 
wounded. Moses however rebuked the officers of the 
host for a second instance of perverseness, in regard 
to the women ; whom they had preserved and brought 
to the camp, contrary to his express injunctions, and 
notwithstanding they had been the chief snare to the 
people ; and painful as it must have been to his feel- 
ings, a stern sense of duty and of the better interests 
of his people caused him to direct them to be slain. 

The tribes of Reuben and Gad with part of the 
tribe of Manasseh, observing how well adapted some 
of the conquered territory was for pasturing cattle in 

l Many instances occur which shew, that the priests were not ex- 
empt from bearing arms. Benaiah, the son of Jehoida, a priest, was 
one of David's renowned men. 2 Sam. xxiii. 20. 


which they chiefly abounded, applied to be permitted 
to take possession at once of Bashan and Gilead, 
and to build fortified places as a refuge for their 
flocks and children; promising" to leave these with 
small garrisons, and to march with the strength of 
their tribes, till the whole nation was finally located. 
The request was granted, and to the honour of the 
applicants they strictly fulfilled the compact. 

The victory of the Hebrews over Moab terminates 
their history previous to their entering Canaan. The 
various punishments which they had provoked had 
considerably diminished their numbers. At the pe- 
riod when they made their offerings for the tabernacle, 
the males above twenty years of age, who offered a 
bekah or half shekel of silver, amounted to 603,550, 
exclusive of the Levites. A census of the population 
was directed to be taken at the present time ; and 
instead of having multiplied, with the prodigious ra- 
pidity which characterized the increase of former 
years, they were reduced to 601,730 males; among 
which there was not a warrior left of those numbered 
in Sinai, excepting Moses, Joshua, Caleb, and their 
families : the rest had perished, according as the 
Lord had denounced against them. (Deut. ii. 14.) 

The whole history of this period is eminently cal- 
culated to demonstrate the absolute necessity of the 
true conversion of the heart by the Holy Spirit, be- 
fore it can be brought into habitual subjection to 
Almighty God. No miracles, no mercies, no severity 
of discipline, is sufficient without this: it revolts as 
soon as the immediate impression has passed away ; 
which, in some instances, (as we have seen,) has been 
wonderfully transient. It is equally manifest from 
the history of this period, that it was not on account 



of any inherent or acquired righteousness of theirs, 
that God had a favour toward Israel ; but (as he de- 
clared by Moses,) because he would keep the oath 
which he sware unto their fathers. (Deut. vii. 8.) 


The law given to Israel in Horeb, interwoven as it 
was with their entire national polity, and calculated 
therefore so greatly to influence the general cha- 
racter of the people, requires a more particular no- 
tice than was given to it in the narrative of its 

It has been divided into three parts: the moral, 
the civil, and the ceremonial: though in fact the civil 
law is little more than the moral commandments of 
the second table, reduced into particulars, and made 
applicable to the daily affairs of life and the social 
intercourse of the people. — 

1. For the moral law, strictly, consisted only of the 
ten commandments, or words, which are pre-emi- 
nently distinguished above all the other precepts; 
first, in that they were written by the finger of God 
upon the two tablets of stone ; and, secondly, in that 
Moses was required to deposit them in the ark of the 
sanctuary. These ten precepts are so familiarly 
known, and so frequently expounded, as to make 
observation on them superfluous, excepting it may 
be the fourth, which under existing circumstances 
invites a brief remark. 

The command respecting the Sabbath is by many 
alleged to be ceremonial, and consequently that the 
obligation to observe it is not perpetual. But this is 
to lose sight of the position which it occupied under 


the Mosaical dispensation. Those which were only 
ceremonial, or of a character merely adapted to the 
time state of the Sinai covenant, were directed to be 
placed beside the ark, to signify that they were in a 
readiness to be removed. 1 But the " ten words," in- 
cluding the Sabbatical precept, being placed within 
the ark, indicated that they were all of them in their 
nature intrinsically moral, and consequently of per- 
petual obligation. They were doubtless susceptible 
of modification, so as to give them an aspect peculiar 
to the Mosaic dispensation ; and thus the Sabbath, 
which is declared to commemorate the rest of God 
after the work of creation, had nevertheless a refer- 
ence to the eTdsting circumstances of the Hebrews. 
But the substantial consideration in the precept, viz. 
that God requires of man to worship him with a 
seventh portion of his time, and to hallow that 
seventh portion, is of perpetual obligation : unless 
it can be shewn that the remaining nine precepts, with 
which it is combined, are likewise limited in their 
obligation to the period of the Mosaic dispensation. 
2. The judgments and statutes, constituting the 
civil law, next demand attention. These have been 
greatly misapprehended. The impression of many is 
that they are burthensome and unmeaning, that they 
communicated a harshness to the Jewish character, 
and are altogether unworthy the attention of enlight- 
ened legislators. 2 But a brief notice of its principal 

1 Our version expresses it, as to be put in the side of the ark. 
But there was no aperture for it there, and the Septuagint has 
ck 7r\ayicop, " by the side." See Owen on the Sabbath. 

2 Cicero, who considered the entire Hebrew polity altogether un- 
suited to the dignity of the Roman people, most probably knew it only 
through the medium of the Rabbins dwelling in Italy, who greatly 
disfigured it by their traditions, and their absurd expositions. 

II 2 


particulars will best serve to illustrate its real charac- 
ter, and prove that these impressions are erroneous. 

The punishment of death was enjoined for murder, 
bestiality, sodomy, witchcraft, the sacrificing to any 
other God than Jehovah, and the sacrificing their 
children to Moloch. 1 The three latter instances may 
at first view seem to have a severe and sanguinary 
complexion ; but when it is considered that these 
offences, by encouraging men to depart from God, 
necessarily led to the impurities and cruelties of ido- 
latry, and so to the reckless commission of the three 
former offences, the enactments must be viewed as 
preventive and humane. Cities of refuge, or sanctu- 
aries, were likewise appointed ; to which the man- 
slayer might flee, if the homicide were accidental or 
proceeded from sudden provocation. Beyond the 
boundaries of these cities the next of kin was at 
liberty to avenge the blood of the deceased ; but this 
only till the death of the high priest, when the offender 

1 The practice of sacrificing children as burnt-offerings appears, 
from Sanchoniatho, the Phoenician historian, to have been derived 
from Ham, the father of Canaan, and therefore naturally prevalent in 
the nations of Canaan, of which Phoenicia constituted a part. He 
mentions it in two places : in his treatise on the Generations he says, 
'that when there happened a great plague and mortality, Cronus 
(which is Ham) offered up his only begotten son as a sacrifice to 
Ouranus (or Noah), and circumcised himself, and constrained his 
allies to do the same.' There is obviously here a corruption of 
the history of Abraham and Isaac. Then in his Treatise on the Mys- 
tical Sacrifice of the Phoenicians, he says, * It was customary among 
the ancients, in times of great calamity, in order to prevent the de- 
struction of all, for the ruler of the city or nation to sacrifice to the 
avenging deities the most beloved of their children, as the price of 
their redemption.' And he goes on to say, that Cronus, who had an 
only son by a nymph called Anobret, when great dangers beset the 
land, invested this son with the emblems of royalty, and sacrificed 
him. (Euseb. Prsep. Evan. lib. i. c. 10. and iv. c. 17.) The sacrifice of 
children to Moloch was practised in Africa in the time of Tertullian. 
See Apolog. c. 9. 


was at full liberty to go where he pleased. Moreover 
to kill a house-breaker during the night was a justifi- 
able homicide; but it was not justifiable after sun- 
rise: the thief was then to be mulcted in penalties, 
and sold in default of payment. 

Besides the above, man-stealing for the purpose of 
slavery was a capital offence. A stubborn and re- 
bellious son might likewise, on the complaint of his 
parents, be stoned to death at the discretion of the 
judges; and if such a one had cursed his father or 
mother, the sentence was imperative. But the j udges 
were not authorized to put an accused person to death 
on the testimony of a single witness, excepting in 
the case of adultery, which was also punishable with 
death ; but for the discovery of which a peculiar 
method was adopted, called the water of jealousy. 1 

The chastity of unmarried females was carefully 
protected. In cases of seduction the man was com- 
pelled to marry the woman, unless the parents ob- 
jected, in which case he was obliged to give her a 
dowry. Even those females whom they purchased 
as slaves, or took captives in war, were not subjected 
to the caprice and tyranny of a brutal sensuality. If 
the owner abused a captive, he was required to marry 

1 It is important also to observe, that the sentence denounced in 
many instances is, that God will "cut off from his people" the of- 
fender, without defining the mode of punishment. These are not 
cases, generally speaking, which could become known to the magis- 
trate ; unless the party offending made voluntary confession. (See for 
an example, Lev. vii. 20, 21 .) Neither do we find it recorded, that the 
Lord commonly visited offenders of this class with temporal judg- 
ments, by which they were prematurely cut off. Such denunciations 
therefore must necessarily have had respect to the judgment after 
death, and referred to the cutting off of such from the congregation of 
the saints ; and they shew that those are in error who with Bishop 
Warburton conclude, that the Mosaic ritual and Old Testament reve- 
lation related only to temporal threats and promises. 


her : if he refused to do this, the woman was entitled 
to her freedom. 

Slavery indeed in general, though permitted, was 
protected by various enactments. A man was punish- 
able for the life of his servant, if he died by the rod 
under his hand ; and if he struck out the eye or tooth 
of his servant, the latter was entitled to his liberty. 
Further, when a slave was discharged, (many being 
bound only for a limited period,) the master was re- 
quired to provide him with a sufficiency of food and 
clothing for a certain time. 

Theft was punished by a payment of from two to 
five fold, according to circumstances ; and even if a 
man found anything, and improperly detained it, he 
was made to restore it^ and a fifth of its value besides. 

Benevolence and consideration for the poor were 
strongly inculcated. Large gleanings were required 
to be left for them, both in the fields and vineyards ; 
and every third year, in addition to the annual taxes, 
they were commanded to give a tithe of all their in- 
crease to be divided between the orphan, the widow, 
and the stranger. These they were likewise strictly 
forbidden to vex or oppress ; the neglect of which 
precept was the declared cause, in after ages, of na- 
tional calamity brought on them by the Lord. Thej r 
were forbidden also to take interest of a Hebrew for 
a loan ; and every seventh year a release of all 
debts was proclaimed, which greatly tended to pre- 
vent the rich from oppressing the poor. The magis- 
trate was on the same account forbidden to take gifts 
from the rich, lest he should be biassed against the 
poor man, when his cause came before him. He 
was however equally admonished, not unduly to 
countenance the poor man in his cause : the popular 


artifice of unprincipled demagogues, whereby they 
have become oppressors of the rich, and proved dan- 
gerous to the peace and liberty of the community at 

Other enactments inculcated due consideration for 
the life and property of each other. They were re- 
quired to erect battlements or parapets on the roofs 
of their houses, lest any should fall from thence. 
They were not to see stray cattle without endeavour- 
ing to retrieve them ; and were to aid their neighbour 
in extricating his beast, when it had fallen into a pit. 
If a man had a mischievous beast and was not care- 
ful to keep it up, and it gored a person to death, the 
beast was to be killed, and his flesh destroyed, and 
the owner sentenced to death : his life however might 
be redeemed by a ransom. If it were a beast only 
that was gored, the owner was subject to a pecu- 
niary fine. If also by a fire, carelessly made or left, 
a neighbour's standing corn was consumed, recom- 
pense was awarded. 

These humane and considerate feelings towards 
each other would be further promoted, and their af- 
fections softened, by what was enjoined even in re- 
gard to animals ; in that they were forbidden to boil 
a kid in its mother's milk ; — to kill the cow or ewe 
and their young for sacrifice on the same day ; — to 
take the young of birds and the parent together; — 
and to muzzle the ox which trod out the corn. 

There was a regard also had in the law for the in- 
firmities and natural weaknesses of men under pecu- 
liar circumstances. A newly married man was ex- 
empt from warfare and from public office during the 
first year of matrimony. And so when ordered to 
battle, — the man who had built a house and had not 


dedicated it, or who had betrothed a wife and not 
taken her, or who had planted a vineyard and not 
partaken of it, was permitted to withdraw. 

In regard also to planting a vineyard or an orchard, 
they were taught by a remarkable enactment their 
dependance on God for the increase. The fruit pro- 
duced in the three first years was accounted uncir- 
cumcised, and therefore not to be used at all; the pro- 
duce of the fourth year was holy, and to be dedicated 
to the Lord ; and not till the fifth year were they al- 
lowed to consume the produce themselves : a special 
promise of increase being given, if these directions 
were attended to. 

Moreover they were required to shew honour to the 
aged by rising up before them. They were specially 
admonished not to revile the gods (i. e. the judges or 
rulers of the people, who were in the place of God in 
the administration of his laws ;) nor were they to 
curse the deaf or the infirm, but to walk with humi- 
lity and charity. 

When these humane and righteous enactments are 
properly considered, we are led to exclaim with 
Moses himself, "What nation is so great, that hath 
statutes and judgments so righteous, as all this law 
which I set before you this day?" "These statutes 
(he says) are your wisdom and understanding in the 
sight of the nations, which shall hear of them and 
say ■,— Surely this great nation is a wise and understand- 
ing people ! " (Deut. iv. 6—8.) 

3. Proceeding next to the Ceremonial or Levitical 
law, (as it is sometimes called, inasmuch as the Le- 
vites administered and had charge of its ordinances,) 
we must first notice the tabernacle. 

The square framing, or substantial portion of it, 


consisted of planks of shittim wood, 1 overlaid with 
gold and set up on end. (Exod.xxvi. 15.) They were 
forty-eight in number ; — twenty for each side, north- 
ward and southward; and eight for the west end. 
The eastern end, or entrance, was left open with five 
pillars of the same material ; the capitals and fillets 
of which were covered with gold, and the sockets 
into which they were fixed made of brass. 2 The 
planks were 10 cubits in length (or rather in height, 
when set up,) and H cubits in width ; and were kept 
firm in their places by two tenons or points at the 
bottom of each, which fixed into silver sockets, fas- 
tened into the ground, the whole being braced toge- 
ther by five rows of bars (made also of shittim wood, 
covered with gold,) which ran through rings of 
gold, fixed on the back of the boards. They thus 
presented in the interior an even surface of gold. 
Upon these were suspended on each side, and lap- 
ping over the west end, ten curtains of fine linen of 
blue, purple, and scarlet, embroidered with cheru- 
bim ; each curtain being 28 cubits long, and 4 in 
breadth, and coupled together by golden hooks and 
loops of blue, so as to form one tent. The roof or 
covering was formed of rams' skins, dyed red. Over 
the whole was an outer case or tent of more durable 
materials, consisting of eleven curtains, each 30 
cubits long, made of goat's hair, (probably in texture 

i The shittim wood, exclusively used in the tabernacle and its 
furniture, is supposed to have been the black acacia, a hard wood, 
common in the deserts of Arabia. Its being common however renders 
the supposition improbable -, for it was offered by the people as a 
valuable, whereas had it been common in the deserts, it would have 
been cut down as needed. 

2 The door or entrance both of the court and tabernacle was in the 
east, whereby the worshippers necessarily turned their backs toward 
the east, and not their faces, as some have erroneously supposed. 


like the cashmere shawls, which are made of the same 
material,) and fastened together with brass hooks. 
The roof of this outer case was of badgers' skins. 

The interior was divided into two unequal portions 
by four pillars of shittim wood and gold, fixed into 
bases or sockets of silver, on which was suspended 
by hooks another curtain or veil, made of the same 
material and pattern with those on the walls. The 
larger division of the interior, called the sanctuary or 
holy place, was next the entrance, and the smaller or 
inner sanctuary, called the lioly of holies, was in the 
west. It was set up in an enclosure 100 cubits 
long, and 50 wide ; the fence of which consisted of 
hangings of fine twined linen, supported by brazen 
pillars of 5 cubits in height, with silver fillets and 
hooks. There was a curtain before the entrance 
of blue, purple and scarlet, supported by four pil- 
lars; and another also at the entrance of the taber- 
nacle itself. 1 

i I have described the Tabernacle as it appears to my own apprehen- 
sion, after having carefully considered every place in which it is men- 
tioned in the holy scriptures ; but it is one of the difficulties thereof ; 
and no representation or description of it which I have met with is 
satisfactory to my own mind. We have not the pattern or plan 
shewn to Moses in the mount, and no where are its general dimen- 
sions of length, breadth, and height described. It has generally been 
supposed to have been 45 feet long by 15 feet wide, the inner sanc- 
tuary being 15 feet of the total length j but this is supposing the cubit 
to have been the Roman measure, which is impossible, inasmuch 
as the Romans were not in existence at this period. According to 
Dr. Arbuthnot, the cubit of the scriptures was 1 foot 9,888 inches. 
Twenty boards therefore of 1£ cubits each in width would make it 
about 55 feet in length. The difficulty in determining the width 
arises from the circumstance of our not knowing whether the west 
end was a straight line, or of some other figure. The latter ap- 
pears the more probable ; for it is said that there were six boards 
for the sides (in the plural) of the tabernacle westward. (Exodus 
xxxvi. 27.) It it is true that the Septuagint and Vulgate have 
here, for "the west side," in the singular; but verse 28 says fur- 


The furniture within the tabernacle consisted of 
an altar of incense, a table, and an ark, in which 
was deposited the law, the pot of manna, and Aaron's 

ther, " and the two boards made he for the corners of the taberna- 
cle in the two sides ; which, if it refers not to two sides westward, 
must mean the north and south sides, and precludes the idea that the 
whole eight boards were set up in a straight line on the west end. 
Their separate mention renders it probable that the angles were 
obtuse, or cut off ; which would, of course, in a slight degree, dimi- 
nish the width. The description of the hanging of the curtains does 
not remove the difficulty. The eleventh curtain of goat's hair was 
to be " doubled in the fore front of the tabernacle." The width of 
the curtain was only 4 cubits, or about seven feet; (Ex. xxvi, 8, 9-) 
if it were hung perpendicularly it could not have closed an aperture 
which must have been at least 9 cubits ; and if horizontally, by the 
curtains being thrown entirely over the tabernacle, it would only 
hang a few feet from the top. Verses 12, 13 describe that a half 
curtain would remain to hang over the back of the tabernacle, and a 
cubit on each side to hang north and south. Josephus seems to have 
concluded that the blue curtains entirely covered it at top and sides 
and ends ; for he says that its appearance was like the azure of the fir- 
mament. But the blue was, at all events, the inner covering ; the goats' 
hair curtains and the badger's-skin awning were what would be seen 
externally ; and as Josephus never saw it, and lived not for many 
centuries after it was done away with, his inference is merely imagina- 
tive. It is difficult to conceive how there was anything to spare in 
the curtains at all, since the five made of fine linen were only 28 
cubits long and 20 cubits in width when joined, and the 20 boards, 
forming the length of the tabernacle, were 30 cubits. And we are 
likewise ignorant of its height. The boards were only 10 cubits high, 
or about 17 feet 6 inches. What sort of framework there was to support 
the roofing does not appear j i. e. whether the curtains and ram-skins 
were drawn over at top, so as to form a strait, horizontal roofing like 
our chambers, or whether the pillars in front and of the sanctuary 
were all of the same height, and that the height of the boards, viz. 10 
cubits. Bishop Patrick understands the covering of the roof to have 
been four-fold : viz., that both the blue and the goat's-skin curtains 
were thrown over it; and likewise the rams' and the badgers' skins. 
Mr. Scott says, "The ten curtains were 40 cubits wide, — yet the sanc- 
tuary was not more than 30 cubits long;" from which he evidently 
concludes, that the whole ten curtains w T ere suspended on one side, 
and that the extra length passed over the roof or down the opposite 
side, both sets of curtains forming a double covering to the roof, as 
Bishop Patrick concludes. But in this case the blue curtains with 
cherubim would fall between the boards and the outer covering of 
goats' hair, and would not be seen in the interior, except on the top 
or roof. Yet Ex. xl. 19, appears to countenance this supposition. 


rod. These were also of shittim wood, covered with 
gold, and transported by means of staves of the same 
materials. Placed upon the ark was a mercy-seat 
of pure gold, with two cherubs of beaten gold on it, 
one at each end, their faces being inward, toward 
the mercy-seat, and their wings on high and cover- 
ing it. Upon this mercy-seat the Lord promised to 
commune with Israel. The altar of incense was 
before the mercy-seat, and on it the priest burnt 
incense every night and morning, when he dressed 
the lamps : an emblem of the prayer and praise 
which Christ continually offers for his people. On 
the north side was placed the table, and on it were 
constantly twelve loaves of bread, in two rows, 
which were renewed every Sabbath. There was also 
frankincense on each row, and dishes, bowls, covers 
and spoons, all of pure gold. On account of the 
bread thus exhibited, it was called, The table of shew- 
bread; and the object of it appears to have been, to 
keep the people in remembrance continually of man's 
dependance upon God for bread, both temporal and 

Opposite to this table, on the south side, was a 
golden candlestick, consisting of one central stem, 
bearing a lamp and six branches. These seven lamps 
were continually burning night and day ; and would 
admonish the Israelite of the need of divine illumi- 
nation, and of continually letting his own light shine. 

The furniture of the outer court consisted of an 
altar for burnt-offerings made of shittim wood, over- 
laid with brass: on which, when the tabernacle was 
pitched, a fire was continually burning. It stood 
about midway between the entrance of the taberna- 
cle ; and a platform of the same materials led up to 


it. Between that, and nearer to the tabernacle, was 
placed a brazen bath or laver ; at which the high- 
priest and his sons washed their hands and feet, as 
often as they went into the tabernacle to minister to 
the Lord ; which would remind them that men should 
wash their hands in innocency, and so compass God's 
altar. All the vessels and utensils of the outer court 
were of brass : those of the sanctuary of gold. 

The garments of the chief priests were costly, and 
apparently designed to be both ornamental and sig- 
nificant. They consisted of an ephod, a broidered 
coat, a robe, a girdle, a breast-plate, and a mitre. 
The ephod or vest and its girdle were of fine twined 
linen, blue, purple and scarlet, and embroidered with 
gold. On the shoulders it was joined together by 
two onyx stones, set in gold, one on each shoulder, 
having engraved on them the names of the twelve 
tribes. The breast-plate was in part of similar mate- 
rials to the ephod. But twelve different precious 
stones were set in it; each one having the name of 
■ one of the tribes inscribed on it ; a circumstance 
which shews that the art of engraving on stones was 
known in those days. The breastplate was fastened 
to the shoulder-pieces or onyx stones of the ephod 
by gold chains of wreath-work ; and it was bound 
fast, over the heart of the high priest, by other chains 
passing round him and fastened to the girdle : most 
expressive of the love which the great High Priest 
bears to his people. The Urim and Thummim are 
likewise directed to be put in the breast-plate ; 
but of these there is no description in the sacred 
writings, and the learned have in vain sought to dis- 
cover precisely what they were. The Urim plainly 
appears to have been used in the way of an oracle 


by itself; (1 Sam. xxviii. 6.) and the breast-plate 
was likewise called "the breast-plate of judgment." l 
The robe of the ephod was entirely of blue, having a 
hem or border adorned with embroidered pomegra- 
nates and golden bells : the bells intended to give 
notice of the entrance of the high priest into the 
tabernacle and his exit ; the pomegranates possibly 
to remind him that there must be fruit as well as 
sound. The coat and the mitre, or turban, were of 
fine linen ; and upon the forehead, attached to the 
mitre, was a fillet or diadem of gold, having en- 
graved upon it "Holiness to the Lord ;" that whilst 
Aaron bore the iniquity of the people, they might be 
reminded, and he also, of the necessity of that holi- 
ness without which no man shall see the Lord. (Heb. 
xii. 14.) Coats and bonnets, beautiful also but less 
magnificent, were made for the other priests. 

The tribe of Levi was separated from the rest of 
the people for the service of God, expressly in lieu 
of the first-born of every tribe, who were otherwise 
holy to the Lord. (Numb. iii. 11.) But only Aaron 
and his descendants were allowed to be priests. For 
the support of the Levites and priests a tithe of the 
property of the people was annually required to be 
paid ; and the priests had in addition the sacrifices 
and offerings made to the Lord ; which is what some 
understand by Jehovah calling himself their portion. 
Forty-eight cities were appointed for their dwelling 
places, having each a suburb of about an English 

l It has been thought that they consisted of a light shining on 
the breastplate, and on particular letters of the names engraven 
thereon. Bnt this does not comport with its being written, that 
Moses, when he first attired Aaron, having put on him the breast- 
plate, " also put in the breastplate the Uriin and Thummim." Lev. 
riii. 8. 


mile in radius from the walls of their city. The 
priests and Levites were likewise the persons chiefly 
appointed as magistrates ; and at all times there was 
an appeal to them in cases of difficulty, and from 
them to the High Priest, and the party refusing to 
submit to their verdict was to be put to death. (Deut. 
xvii. 9 — 12 and xxi. 5.) 

The ordinances which more especially constituted 
the ceremonial law consisted chiefly in sacrifices, 
offerings and festivals. The first class of sacrifices 
and offerings was national. A kid of the goats was 
slain every morning, as a sacrifice for the sins of 
the whole people ; and two lambs were offered daily, 
one in the morning and one in the evening, as a 
burnt-offering or thanksgiving. These offerings were 
accompanied by a prescribed quantity of flour and 
oil for a meat-offering, and of wine which was poured 
out in the holy place for a drink-offering; and on 
the Sabbath day two lambs were offered night and 
morning, and a double quantity of the accompani- 
ments. Thus were the Israelites daily reminded that 
they were sinners, and that their continued exist- 
ence was owing to mercy. And thus daily also they 
offered a national sacrifice of praise for the manifold 
blessings they enjoyed. 

In the beginning of every month there was a larger 
sacrifice than usual. And once a year (viz. the 10th 
day of the 7th month) there was a solemn humilia- 
tion for sin, called the great day of atonement. 

The second class of sacrifices and offerings was for 
individuals. Some of the offerings were voluntary, 
others were enjoined. There was also a considerable 
distinction in the value of the offerings prescribed 
for different sins, and for different persons also, ac- 


cording to their rank : the more exalted offender 
being considered the greater sinner. The restricted 
limits of this volume will not admit of a more parti- 
cular description of them. 

Besides the notice of particular trespasses, persons 
were likewise pronounced unclean on various occa- 
sions, when, though they were not guilty of actual sin, 
they were accounted as having contracted defilement. 
Leprosy has generally been considered typical of the 
disease and pollution of the soul: a person afflicted 
with this scourge was consequently accounted un- 
clean ; so was he who touched a leper ; and also he 
who touched a dead body. Besides the typical cha- 
racteristics of leprosy and death, as regards sin, they 
would also serve to remind the people of the disas- 
trous consequences of sin, of which they are the 
fruits. There was also a regard to the health of the 
community, in thus separating them from the congre- 
gation after the touch of a leper and on the appear- 
ance of leprosy itself; and other causes of ceremonial 
uncleanness were well calculated to promote purity 
of mind and an abhorrence of what is naturally dis- 
gusting. 1 

A regard to health was probably a reason also why 
the Hebrews were prohibited from eating certain 
meats, and especially from eating blood, the most 
unsuitable and indigestible of all articles pretending 
to the name of aliment. There is however a further 
reason given for the prohibition of blood ; viz. that 

1 A regulation is given in Deuteronomy xxiii. 13—14, concerning 
their having each man a paddle to his weapon, and a cause assigned 
for it, which remarkably illustrates this matter ; and sets forth in a 
striking manner the decorum and propriety which ought to be ob- 
served by those who fear God, even in their most retired and solitary 


it is the life of the animal, and consequently typical 
of that which is forfeited by man. 

Some animals were likewise forbidden, because, as 
is conjectured, they were objects of idolatrous wor- 
ship by the heathen : the hypothesis is improbable ; 
as in that case the ram and the calf must have been 
prohibited, since they were both objects of worship. 
An animal being an object of worship by the hea- 
then would have been a more probable reason why 
the Hebrews should have been permitted to eat it ; 
lest a systematic refraining from it should have been 
mistaken for a sacred veneration for it ; and no- 
thing was more jealously guarded against than any 
imitation of, or conformity to, heathen superstition. 
The Hebrews were strictly, on this account, forbid- 
den to offer sacrifices any where but at the door of 
the tabernacle. (Lev. xvii. 7.) For the same reason 
they were not to round the corners of their heads, 
nor to cut themselves or make any baldness between 
the eyes for the dead, nor to puncture the skin. (Deut. 
xiv. 1.) So that instead of the Mosaic ritual being 
borrowed from the laws and customs of other nations, 
(as some have most erroneously imagined and writ- 
ten,) the manners and customs of the heathen were 
most studiously avoided. Hence likewise the de- 
scendants of strangers, naturalized amongst them, 
could not be members of the national council till 
several generations after, that they might become 
weaned from their inveterate idolatries. 1 How con- 
trary does the principle appear which advocates the 
introduction of persons into the senate of a Christian 

1 The Edomites and Egyptians were among the most favoured 5 the 
first because they were brothers, and the latter because Israel had 
been strangers in their land. Their descendants therefore were re- 


and Protestant nation, without any security for their 
conformity to the religious institutions thereof. 

Finally must be noticed the principal religious 
festivals of the Hebrews. Three times in the year all 
the males throughout Israel were required to appear 
before the Lord, at the place where the tabernacle 
might be pitched at the time. The first occasion 
was the feast of the Passover ; the second, the feast 
of Pentecost, or Weeks; and the third, the feast of 
Tabernacles. They were all commemorative of some 
past event, and typical of some future one. 

The Passover was also called " the feast of unlea- 
vened bread" It began on the 14th of the first month, 
by the putting away all leaven, and eating only un- 
leavened bread. This feast was commemorative of 
two circumstances, connected with the deliverance 
from Egypt. The first, (which has been noticed,) was 
the angel passing over the families of Israel, when he 
smote the first-born of Egypt; the second was their 
having no opportunity to leaven their bread on ac- 
count of the preparation for their departure. On this 
day, in the fulfilment of the type, Christ, the true 
passover, who passes over the transgression of the 
remnant of his heritage, was crucified for them, thus 
making the atonement. 

Fifty days after the Passover was the feast of 
Weeks, or Pentecost, so called from the Hebrews being 
directed to number seven sevens, or weeks, from the 
Passover ; and the feast itself was on the day fol- 
lowing, or the fiftieth day, to which the word Pente- 
cost refers. This was the beginning of harvest, a 

ceived in their third generation. But the Moabites and Ammonites, 
who, it will be remembered, were Lot's incestuous posterity, were 
excluded to the tenth generation. (Lev. xi. l. Deut. xxiii. 2—8.) 


sheaf of the first fruits of which was brought in and 
waved before the Lord; whence also this festival 
was called " the feast of First Fruits" It commem- 
orated the giving of the Law on Mount Sinai, which 
was fifty days after the departure from Egypt. Its 
antitypes under the gospel are the giving of the first 
fruitsof the Holy Spirit, and the writing of the law 
of God in the fleshly tables of the hearts of his people 
by the same Spirit. 

On the fifteenth of the seventh month 1 was observed 
the feast of Tabernacles, in commemoration of the 
nation sitting quietly and securely under tents made 
of boughs of goodly trees, after the Lord had brought 

1 Having had frequent occasion to refer to their months, it will 
prove convenient to explain, that they co anted the year from two dif- 
ferent points. Previous to the Exodus, the new year commenced 
always at the autumnal equinox, which was the conclusion of harvest; 
but when the Passover was appointed, on the night of their deliver- 
ance from Egypt, they were expressly directed to make it the com- 
mencement of a new year. This new year, therefore, began at the 
vernal equinox, when the green corn was beginning to appear ; and 
the two equinoxes now each began, and served to regulate, a different 
year. The new year commencing at the vernal equinox was their 
sacred or ecclesiastical year; the old year, beginning with the new 
moon which followed the autumnal equinox, was still retained for 
merely civil purposes. The months of their ecclesiastical year were 
lunar, each consisting alternately of 29 and 30 days. But as this would 
every year cause a loss of upwards of 11 days, they occasionally in- 
tercalated a month. The months are as follow : — 

lstj Nisan beginning 21 March. 

2d, Zif,orIjar do 20 April. 

3d, Si van do ....20 May. 

4th,Tamuz do 19 June. 

5th, Ab do 18 July. 

6th, Elul do 17 August. 

7th, Tisri, or Ethanim do 15 September. 

8th, Bui, or Mareshnan . . . . do 15 October. 

9th, Chisleu do 13 November. 

10th, Tebeth do 13 December. 

llth, Sebat do 11 January. 

12th, Adar do 10 February. 

The intercalated month was called Ve-Adar, i. e. " another Adar." 
(See Fleury's Customs of the Israelites.) 
I 2 


them out of Egypt. (Lev. xxiii. 43.) It was the final 
ingathering of the harvest (hence called likewise 
" the feast of Ingathering") and it was the end also 
of the vintage, and of the old or civil year. Its an- 
titypes under the gospel dispensation have not yet 
been seen; but it manifestly refers to the glorious 
period when the great year of the sojourning of 
Christ's church in the world shall be run out; when 
the ingathering or final completion of the number of 
liis people shall be accomplished ; when he will also 
tread the wine-press in his fury ; and Israel shall 
finally dwell securely, each under his own vine and 
his own fig-tree. 

There were some other festivals of eminence be- 
sides the three noticed. Nearly connected with the 
feast of Tabernacles was the feast of Trumpets; so 
called from the blowing of trumpets by which it was 
celebrated. It was held on the first day of the new 
moon, which occurred in the seventh month, which 
was the beginning of the old Hebrew year, and was 
supposed to be the time when the world was first cre- 
ated. Its antitype appears to be the re-creation, when 
Christ shall make all things new. (Isa. lxv. 17.) 

There were three special sabbaths, or periods of rest. 
The first was the seventh day sabbath, the observance 
of which was particularly insisted upon, as a test of 
their obedience, and as a sign that God had sanctified 
or set them apart as a people for himself. 

Secondly, every seventh year was a sabbath for the 
land, during which they were required to let it remain 
fallow. The spontaneous produce thereof, arising 
from the dropped seed of the previous year, was en- 
tirely for the use of the poor; God promising to the 
owners of the land an increase in the sixth year, 


equal to the produce of two years. These sabbaths 
were typical of the rest which remaineth for the peo- 
ple of God. 

And, thirdly, was the great sabbatical YEAR, or Ju- 
bilee, which occurred after every seven shemitahs, or 
periods of seven years ; the next, or fiftieth year, 
being proclaimed as the year of Jubilee, by a great 
blowing of Trumpets ; from which word indeed {Trum- 
pets, i. e. Jubelim) it derives its name. In this year 
liberty was proclaimed to all. Every bond servant, 
whether Israelite or stranger, was emancipated. 
Every debtor had the sums he stood indebted can- 
celled. Every one who had mortgaged his estate, now 
received his land again : for land could not legally 
be sold in perpetuity, but was only leased out for the 
term of years which had to run till the next jubilee 
occurred. The whole was a striking type of " the 
times of restitution of all things," (Acts iii. 21,) spoken 
of by the prophets, when the great trumpet shall be 
blown, and those believers who now groan in bondage 
shall be delivered into the glorious liberty of the chil- 
dren of God, all debts or trespasses being forgiven. 

Such was the law given to the people in Horeb ! 
Holy, beneficent, and righteous, it was designed and 
calculated both to elevate the character of the people, 
and to render them happy in proportion as they were 
obedient to it. At the same time, however, the holi- 
ness of this law, and the rigour of some portions of 
its ceremonial,— especially those ordinances which 
related to uncleanness, and voluntary and involun- 
tary trespasses, — were well suited to subserve the 
purposes of that intermediate dispensation which was 
ultimately to lead them to Christ. For even the 
Israelites, who were the most favoured and, notwith- 


standing their transgressions, the most moral people 
of the world, were nevertheless very far from enter- 
taining adequate notions of the holiness and power 
of God, or of their own fallen condition ; and this 
law was fitted and intended to make manifest to them 
their natural apostacy, infidelity, and sinfulness, and 
thus in the end to prepare them, like a schoolmaster, 
for the Christian dispensation. 

Previous to his decease, and whilst the people so- 
journed at their last station, Moses wrote again the 
whole Law, which was called Deuteronomy, or the 
Second Law, in consequence of its being thus recapi- 
tulated or digested ; and also because he required of 
the new generation, which had risen up since it was 
first given in Horeb, to pledge themselves to its obser- 
vance. On this occasion it was an entire congregation 
of Israel that was summoned ; consisting of the cap- 
tains and elders, the people generally, their wives and 
little ones, and all strangers likewise, from the hewer 
of wood to the drawer of water. (Deut. xxix.) Great 
blessings were promised to them if they obeyed this 
law, and awful denunciations were added if they were 
disobedient, or turned to serve idols. They were then 
to be visited with plague, pestilence, famine, and 
sore diseases ; they were to be smitten before their 
enemies, and exposed to rebuke and oppression; 
and finally they were to be removed into all king- 
doms, and given up to judicial blindness and mad- 
ness of heart, to grope in the dark, as it were, with 
noon-day light about them. (Deut. xxviii.) 

The people pledged their obedience by a solemn 
covenant, and the law was then consigned by Moses 
to the charge of the priests, who were directed on 
every sabbatical year, at the feast of Tabernacles, to 


rehearse it in the ears of the assembled people. An- 
other copy was appointed to be made for the King, or 
(as we may presume) for the judge or ruler under 
God during the Theocracy. 

Moses having accomplished these things, and so- 
lemnly appointed Joshua his successor, the Lord now 
directed him to ascend into Pisgah, an eminence of 
Mount Abarim, opposite Jericho, from whence he 
was permitted to survey from a distance the land of 
promise, and thus to gladden his heart with the ear- 
nest of those " days afar off," when he and his pious 
forefathers should enjoy the fulness of the covenant 
made with them, and have their inheritance with 
Israel under a better and more glorious dispensation. 
And there he died, at the age of 120 years, his eye not 
being dim nor his natural force abated. A public 
mourning was observed for him during thirty days ; 
but the Lord caused him to be privately interred in a 
valley in the land of Moab, and carefully concealed 
the place of his sepulture ; lest the excessive venera- 
tion for his memory, which he foresaw the Israelites 
would afterwards entertain, should lead to an idola- 
trous worship of his remains. 

The wisdom which appeared in Moses as a legis- 
lator and military leader have been by some ascribed 
to his own tact ; and he has been presumed to have 
had some private and special object in view, con- 
nected with the government and subjugation of Israel, 
in every law which he enacted, and every political 
measure which was adopted. But to speak of the 

6 daring boldness ' of his predictions and the ' clever 
policy and adroitness of his measures/ l is to lose 

i See Milman's History of the Jews. 


sight of the fact, that he was throughout nothing 
but an agent acting under the express command and 
immediate direction of Jehovah ; and that in the only 
instance in which he appears to have forgotten this, 
he drew upon himself a public rebuke from the Al- 
mighty, and was excluded from the temporary in- 
heritance of the land of Canaan. His character, 
nevertheless, as the minister of God, in that very ex- 
alted but very trying station to which he was called, 
has its own peculiar excellences ; and his meekness, 
his modesty, his forbearance, his disinterestedness, 
his faith and courage, are worthy of our highest ad- 
miration. Nothing can be more evident than that he 
lived for God and for Israel, and not for himself. 
Twice the Lord proposed to him to reject Israel, 
promising that he would aggrandize his immediate 
posterity; and twice did Moses decidedly and with 
the purest patriotism put it from him. Had he been 
influenced by motives of private ambition, and in 
the habit of exercising the political dexterity and 
craft which have been attributed to him, he might 
undoubtedly have secured for his own children the 
succession to the command which he himself en- 
joyed, and have converted the constitution given to 
the Hebrews into an hereditary monarchy. But his 
own children were entirely passed over, and left 
upon a level with the other Levites, without even a 
territorial possession. The office of high priest was 
conferred upon the descendants of his brother, and 
the imperatorship was given (as we have just seen) 
to Joshua; whilst the people in general enjoyed the 
largest measure of freedom compatible with happiness. 




[a.m. 2553.] The time was now arrived when the 
Hebrews were to take possession of Canaan : as soon 
therefore as the days of mourning for Moses were 
past, Joshua commanded them to prepare victuals 
for a march. Up to this period they had been mira- 
culously sustained by the supply of manna; but now 
they were about to be left to the ordinary means of 
God's providence ; for the manna ceased to fall im- 
mediately on their quitting the wilderness ; and the 
guidance of the host by the pillar and the cloud 
was likewise apparently discontinued at the same 
time. And not only had Israel been marvellously 
fed and directed hitherto, but their raiment also had 
not become worn during the whole forty years, nor 
had they ever suffered in their marches from swollen 
feet: a beautiful type of the blessedness of those 
who spiritually follow Christ ; whose feet are shod 
with the preparation of the gospel of peace ; who are 
clothed with a robe of righteousness, never failing 
and never fading ; who have the light of life continu- 


ally with them, and whose temporal and spiritual 
wants are constantly supplied ! 

The depravity of the Canaanites has been already 
noticed, (see page 8.) Moses, in his last instructions, 
again adverted to their superstitious and evil prac- 
tices, 1 and strictly enjoined the people to make no 
covenant with them, but to destroy them ; lest they 
should prove a means of corrupting their children, 
and thus of bringing wrath upon Israel ;— an admoni- 
tion which the events narrated in the present chapter 
will prove not to have been unnecessary. They were 
likewise commanded to break down or burn their 
altars, images, and pillars, and also the gold and 

1 Eight different classes of evil- workers are enumerated by Moses, 
(see Deut. xviii.) which throws some light upon the superstitions 
of the Canaanites. [1 .] Persons who used divination. These cast arrows 
in the air and let them fall, to decide in what direction the parties 
consulting should march or travel. They likewise inspected the 
entrails of beasts ; they drew the lots ; and they consulted the tera- 
phim, or little images of their gods. [2.] Consalters of familiar spirits. 
From the Septuagint calling these evyaarpi/xv^ae they are supposed 
by some to have possessed an acquired power of gastriloquy. But 
Isaiah xxix. 4, and other scriptures, show it to have been a real pos- 
session. Dr. Wolff mentions an Arab whom he saw thus possessed j 
and the spirit within him spake in a different voice, while the man 
continued his conversation in his own voice. Daubuz adduces many 
authorities on this subject, in his learned work on the Apocalypse* 
fol. 1053 ; and see also the case mentioned Acts xvi. 16. [3.] The 
enchanters appear to have been little different from diviners. They 
are called in the Hebrew t^H2)D» and * n tne Sept. ouai/iPofisvoi, 
those who judged by omens or augury. [4.] Witches. The word is 
the same in the Hebrew as that translated magicians— F)££?Oft, from 
£)t£?IDi to mutter, because it is supposed they used a muttering 
noise whilst practising their incantations. The Septuagint calls 
them (pagfiaicoi, i. e. persons who prepared drugs as magical charms. 
[5.] Wizards, i. e. wise men, or pretenders to divine knowledge. 
[6.] Necromancers, persons who consulted the dead j see Isaiah viii. 19. 
Saul sought for one " who had the spirit of Ob." (So the Hebrew, 
niM ) [/•] Charmers, were much the same as witches. Such a one 
used incantations, and is called in the Sept. eTraeidcau eiraotdrjv. 
[8.] Observers of times. In Isaiah xlvii. 13. they are called "Monthly 
Prognosticators," and declared what moons and days were lucky, or 
the contrary. (See Bishop Clayton on the Hebrew Bible.) 


silver ornaments of their idols, and to obliterate the 
very names of their deities, lest by any means they 
might become ensnared thereby. (Deut. vii. and xii.) 
Excepting the gold and silver, and the brass and iron 
vessels, (which were to be purified by fire, and then 
consecrated to the Lord,) nothing of the spoil of the 
seven nations was to be retained, — not even the 
cattle, a fact which evinces that the Hebrews were not 
incited to the conquest of Canaan by the lust of plun- 
der; but that they were instruments in the hands of 
God for the punishment of its inhabitants. 

Whilst the people were preparing for the march, 
Joshua selected two trusty warriors, and sent them 
forth secretly to Jericho to reconnoitre. On entering 
the city they proceeded to a house of public enter- 
tainment, situate on the town walls, and kept by a 
woman named Rahab. 1 The king of Jericho, being 
informed of their arrival, sent immediately to appre- 
hend them, but Rahab, at the risk of her life, con- 
cealed them under a quantity of flax stalks, and 
dismissed the king's officers on a wrong scent ; after 
which she let down the spies by a cord from a window. 
From this woman they learnt the state of panic pro- 
duced among the inhabitants by the recent victories 
of the Hebrews ; and expressing her own confidence, 
that God was with them, and that they would pre- 
vail, she proposed and obtained from them a compact 
for the saving of herself and family. 

1 She is called in the scriptures a harlot; not that she was therefore 
necessarily a person of profligate character, but because the morals of 
female keepers of houses of public resort were so commonly loose, 
that the term harlot became identical with that of innkeeper. In the 
instance of Rahab, whatever may have been her former conduct, she 
now " obtained a good report through faith; " (Heb. xi. 31, 39,) and 
she is honoured by being enumerated among the female ancestors of 
our Lord. (Matt. i. 5.) 


On receiving this intelligence, Joshua advanced 
nearer to the Jordan, that the people might be in 
readiness for the passage of the river. The order of 
march adopted was of a simple but striking character. 
Joshua merely caused the Levites to bear the ark at 
a distance of 2000 cubits (about three-quarters of a 
mile) in advance of the main body, who were directed 
to move, turn, or halt, as they saw the ark move. 

After three days more the Levites were directed to 
proceed with the ark to the waters of the Jordan, 
which had now, being harvest- time, overflowed its 
banks; (Josh. iii. 15, and iv. 18) and Joshua, who 
was already endued with the power of the Holy 
Ghost, gave the people to understand, that the Lord 
was about to show, by a further testimony, that he 
was with him in like manner as he had been with 
Moses. The people, in this instance, advanced with 
divine confidence; and no sooner had the feet of the 
priests, who bore the ark, touched the margin of the 
river, than the waters instantly separated, those which 
came down from, above accumulating and rising to a 
heap at some distance from the camp, and the tribu- 
tary streams drying up. To commemorate this won- 
derful event twelve stones were taken from the bed of 
the river, and set up in the place where the army 
halted after it had effected the passage ; and twelve 
huge ones were likewise taken from the land, and 
deposited in the river. There they probably con- 
tinue to this day; as the river, by resuming its course, 
would both overwhelm and preserve them. 1 

1 Some are disposed to attribute the dividing of the Red Sea, in the 
time of Moses, to the accidental occurrence of a natural phenomenon, 
in the prevalence of a strong wind, mentioned in the scriptures. But 
there is no such phenomenon mentioned in the present instance; 
nor when Elisha, at a subsequent period, divided the same river. 


The entire proceedings of the Hebrews on this oc- 
casion were calculated to confound human notions 
of military policy. For now that they were before 
the walls of Jericho, the Lord directed the males to 
be circumcised (which rite had been neglected during 
their sojourn in the wilderness,) by which circum- 
stance the army was exposed to that very danger 
from the enemy, which Simeon and Levi took ad- 
vantage of, when they assaulted the Shechemites. 
At this time also they observed the feast of the pass- 
over : the day of the passage of the Jordan being the 
very same on which they were ordered to draw out 
the lamb. Every thing indeed wore the appearance 
of a people in perfect security, engaged in celebrat- 
ing pacific and religious rites, instead of being in the 
presence of a dangerous enemy who was jealously 
observing their proceedings from the walls. 

The mode of conducting the siege was still more 
extraordinary. By divine direction, Joshua for seven 
days successively sent forth a solemn procession, 
consisting of the warriors, with the ark borne in the 
midst of them, and preceded by seven priests. They 
marched round the city each day, the priests blowing 
trumpets made of rams' horns, but the fighting men 
preserving a strict silence. On the seventh day, in- 
stead of compassing the city once only, the procession 
passed round it seven times ; and on the completion 
of the seventh circuit, the whole army set up a shout 
which rent the air, the walls of the city fell down 
flat, and Jericho was taken without a blow and set on 
fire. Joshua commanded every thing to be destroyed, 
with the exception of Rahab and her family. 

But an unexpected reverse ensued. Joshua having 
next despatched a select body of troops against the 


city of Ai, they were repulsed and fled with a loss of 
six-and-thirty killed. Trifling as was this discom- 
fiture in itself, the people nevertheless, with their 
usual proneness to despond, immediately yielded to 
terror. Even Joshua began to wish that the Jordan 
were once more between his army and the enemy ; 
but he was rebuked, and informed that the cause of 
the reverse was a transgression of God's command 
by one of the people. To discover the offender, the 
lot was resorted to, and Achan of the tribe of Judah, 
being pointed out by it, acknowledged that he had 
secreted in his tent a portion of the spoil ordered to 
be destroyed. He was consequently stoned, and a 
tumulus raised over his grave as a memorial and 

Joshua then, at the direction of the Lord, planted 
an ambuscade of 5000 men in the rear of Ai ; and 
attacking it in front with his main force, made a feint 
of retreating as soon as the inhabitants came out 
against him. The men of Ai being thus allured to a 
distance from the city, the ambush entered and set 
fire to it; and the enemy, perceiving themselves cut 
off thereby from retreat and placed between two 
armies, were filled with consternation, and became a 
prey to the sword, without the loss of a man on the 
part of Israel. 

The neighbouring kings of Canaan now entered 
into a confederacy against their victorious aggressors; 
with the exception of the Hivites who dwelt at 
Gibeon and the adjacent towns, who, seemingly* aware 
that the Hebrews were not permitted to make any 
covenant with them, nevertheless obtained one by 
stratagem. They sent an embassy to Joshua, which 
pretended to be from a distant country; to sustain 


which imposture they were provided with mouldy 
provision, and clad in patched garments and shoes, 
which they declared was owing to the length of the 
journey they had undertaken. Joshua omitted in 
this instance to ask counsel of the Lord ; the conse- 
quence of which was, that he and the elders were de- 
ceived, and entered into a treaty of peace with them. 
The discovery of the cheat well nigh produced a mu- 
tiny among the people; but the solemn oath of Joshua 
and the council was pledged for the protection of the 
Gibeonites, and therefore the treaty was religiously 
observed: a rare circumstance in an age when poli- 
tical perfidy every where prevailed. They were de- 
graded however to the condition of wood cutters and 
water carriers for the service of Israel, conformably 
with their own proposal to become servants to them. 

The surrounding chiefs were greatly incensed at 
the defection of the Gibeonites ; and to deter others 
from fdllowing their ruinous example, five princes 
united their forces and besieged them. The Gibeon- 
ites sent to the Hebrew camp, to implore assistance ; 
and Joshua, encouraged by the Lord, fell suddenly 
upon the besiegers, and put them to the rout. The 
Almighty at the same time visited them with a tempest 
of such terrific character, that more perished by the 
enormous hailstones, than by the sword of the Israel- 
ites. During the pursuit a still more remarkable 
token of the divine interposition was vouchsafed : at 
the word of Joshua the sun and moon, which happened 
to be b'oth above the horizon together, were stayed in 
their position, until the people had avenged them- 
selves upon their enemies. 

A few of the Canaanites found refuge for a time in 
the fortified cities. The H\e princes who commanded 


them fled together, at the commencement of the bat- 
tle, and concealed themselves in a caveat Makke- 
dah, where they were discovered, and afterwards 
brought before Joshua at Gilgal. He first caused all 
the captains of the host to put their feet upon the 
necks of these kings, assuring them that if they 
would only be courageous in the Lord, they should 
in like manner overcome all their enemies; after 
which the kings were slain, and their bodies thrown 
into the cave in which they had taken refuge ; a heap 
of stones, piled against the entrance, continuing for 
many generations after to point out their sepulchre, 
and to remind Israel of the power and faithfulness of 
their God. 1 

Joshua next besieged and took in succession the 
cities Makkedah, Libnah, Lachish, Eglon, Hebron, and 
Debir; and Horam, the prince of Gezer, coming to 
the assistance of Lachish, was likewise overthrown 
and his forces entirely destroyed. The whole indeed 
of the south country between Kadesh and Gibeon 
was now subdued, with the exception of Jebus (or 
Jerusalem) and some few other fortresses. 

The northern kings however, who, through some 
judicial infatuation, had stood aloof, and suffered the 
cities and forces of the south to be destroyed, next 
formed another powerful confederacy under Jabin, 
king of Hazor, and drew together to the waters of 
Merom an immense multitude, with numerous horses 

1 Joshua was a striking type of Christ, in his actions as well as in 
name, {Joshua and Jesus being the same,) and set forth the manner in 
which the Lord will bruise Satan under the feet of his people, and give 
them the necks of their enemies, however numerous and potent, at that 
time when the church shall emerge from her wilderness condition, 
and terminate her militant dispensation by a signal career of victory. 
(See Rev. xix.) 


and chariots. But Joshua fell upon them unexpect- 
edly, and a complete rout ensued. 

After these successes, Joshua directed his forces 
against the Anakim, a giant race who infested the 
hill country, whom he either destroyed or rendered 
tributary, with the exception of such as might escape 
out of Palestine. 1 The country might now indeed be 
said to be subdued, Joshua having in the short space 
of seven years, overthrown thirty-one kings, in addi- 
tion to those previously subdued by Moses. 

[a.m. 2560.] — As the people now enjoyed rest from 
their enemies, Joshua was left at liberty, previous to 
his decease, to carry into execution the various in- 
structions he had received from God respecting their 
final establishment in the land. The conquered ter- 
ritory was partitioned out by lot, in those portions 
usually represented in maps of Palestine. Shiloh in 
the portion of Ephraim, which was the tribe of Joshua, 
became the head-quarters of Israel. Here the taber- 

1 The Scriptures plainly speak of a race of giants, whom they call 
Nephilim and Rephaim; and all writers of profane history who refer 
to antiquity testify of the same, though with different degrees of fable 
and exaggeration. Plutarch perhaps gives correct dimensions when 
he relates that Sertorius opened the grave of Antzeus in Africa, and 
discovered a skeleton of six cubits in length. The Greeks probably 
derived their tradition of the war of the giants against Jupiter, and 
of their heaping Mount Ossa upon Mount Pelion for the purpose of 
scaling heaven, from corrupt tradition of the building of the tower of 
Babel, and the rebellion of mankind in those days against Jehovah. 
Profane historians generally make them descendants of Saturn, who 
was Ham ; which will account for their being found in Canaan. They 
were called Emim and Zanzummim by the Moabites ; but by the He- 
brews Anakim, from Anak, the head of a chief family of them. 

In regard also to the escape of some of the Canaanites, Procopius 
mentions an interesting historical fact, of two pillars of white marble 
which remained in his time at Tigisis, in Numidia, on which was a 
Phoenician inscription, stating, " We are they who fled from the face 
of Joshua the robber, the son of Naue." (Procop. de Vand. lib. ii. See 
also Bochart's Canaan, lib. i. cap. xxiv. p. 520.) 


nacle was pitched, the host mustered, and the princi- 
pal religious and political concerns were transacted. 1 
The last act of Joshua was to have the substance 
of the law ratified again at Mounts Ebal and Gerizim, 
as directed by Moses. He first summoned the whole 
people (not their deputies merely) to Shechem, and 
having given them a solemn charge, he led them 
forth to the two steeps, which are divided only by a 
narrow though deep ravine. A more completely na- 
tional and solemn spectacle can scarcely be con- 
ceived. Six of the tribes stood upon Mount Ebal, 
from whence the curses of the law were denounced, 
and six stood on Mount Gerizim, from whence the 
blessings and promises were rehearsed. An altar 
was erected and sacrifice offered ; and the whole 
people responded to each curse and blessing with a 

1 Dr. Croxall, in his " Scripture Politics," (p. 85.) thinks that Shiloh 
was also named Mizpeh ; from the circumstance that in Josh. i. 18, we 
have the history of the Tabernacle being set up in Shiloh ; that before 
the death of Phinehas, without any intimation of its removal, it is 
spoken of as at Mizpeh; (Judges xx. 1, and 27,) and that again, without 
any intimation of removal, we find it at Shilohm the days of Eli. (1 Sam. 
iv. 3.) The suggestion is strengthened from other considerations, 
l. The host is said to be congregated " to the Lord " in Mizpeh -, an 
expression which specially applies to their being before the place ap- 
pointed by him for worship. (Judges xx. 1 . 1 Sam. x. 170 2. Samuel 
judged the people at Mizpeh, (1 Sam. vii. 6, 16,) but the judges of 
Israel usually resided in their native territory, and Samuel was a Le- 
vite of Mount Ephraim. Moreover Samuel, who was the minister of 
the sanctuary, was most likely to have resided near to it. 3 . The name 
Mizpeh or Mizpah was one very likely to be given to the place where 
the tabernacle was pitched, signifying as it does ' the place of watching ,' 
where the Lord may be understood as watching over his people, and 
the people as watching and waiting for him. This suggestion of Dr. 
Croxall will be found to remove several difficulties in the Scripture 
narrative. It may here be added, that some signal judgment, the par- 
ticulars of which are not given, was ultimately inflicted on Shiloh, 
for the wickedness of its inhabitants. (See Jeremiah vii. 12, 14, and 
xxvi. 6*.) Mizpah was a name frequently given : there was one in 
Gilead, (Gen. xxxi. 49.) another in Judah, (Josh. xv. 38,) another in 
Benjamin, (Josh, xviii. 26,) and another in Moab, (1 Sam. xxii. 3.) 


loud Amen, The law was finally written upon great 
stones, which were set up in Mount Ebal, and plais- 
tered over; on the face of which the letters were 
scratched or written "very plainly," whilst the cement 
was wet. l (Deut. xxvii. 2, 3.) 

[a.m. 2585.] Soon after this, Joshua died, in the 
110th year of his age. The period of his rule, which 
must have lasted about thirty-two years, appears to 
have been not only glorious, in a military point of 
view ; but distinguished also by the comparative zeal 
and integrity with which the nation worshipped and 
obeyed Jehovah. The same state of things continued 
during the life-time of those princes and elders of the 
people, who had seen all the wonderful works and 
providence of God ; and in whose ears the last solemn 
warnings both of Moses and Joshua still vibrated. 

[a.m. 2595.] — There is not however a more conclu- 
sive evidence of the natural alienation of the heart 
from God, than the testimony which history affords 
of the rapid apostacy of succeeding generations, in 
nations or cities where the power and knowledge 
of God have been manifest in an eminent degree. 
Symptoms of this moral declension soon began to 
betray themselves in Israel. For some years after 
the death of Joshua they were engaged in warfare 
with those Canaanites not yet subdued, each tribe 
endeavouring to clear its own inheritance ; but some 
at length omitted to destroy the altars and other 
traces of the idolatrous worship of the vanquished; 
and some, becoming weary of the conflict, were satis- 

i Mr. Williamson states that the custom of plaistering columns, or 
covering them with a coat of stucco, was common to the Egyptians, 
who often likewise stained the figures sculptured on them. ^Manners 
and Customs of the Anc. Egyptians, toI. iii. p. 300.) 
K 2 


tied with subjecting their enemies, and tolerated their 
superstitions. The district of Sidon in the north, 
and Philistia in the south, remained altogether un- 
subdued. The Amorites were still powerful in mount 
Heres, and a few years after the death of Joshua 
drove the Danites up into the mountain, and with 
their iron chariots maintained themselves in the val- 
leys. Jebus, (afterward Jerusalem,) Megiddo, Gezer, 
and many other towns, scattered throughout Pales- 
tine were suffered to capitulate on becoming tribu- 
tary. 1 (Judges i.) By the natural man, who is prone 
to reason as if he considered himself more merciful 
and tolerant than God, this relaxation of their usual 
severities will probably be approved. The specious 
argument would perhaps at that time present itself, — 
* Many of the customs of this people appear harmless ; 
some are even worthy of imitation ; and if a few 
must be condemned, is it not the most benevolent 
course to endeavour, by dwelling among them, to 
convert them ? ' But this ill-judged lenity and apathy 
was the beginning of serious troubles to Israel, as 
Moses had forewarned them would be the case : for 
they thus became " mingled among the heathen, and 
learned their ways." The next step in the downward 
progress naturally was to intermarry with them ; and 
familiarly beholding in consequence their idolatrous 
rites, they next proceeded to join in them. Thus were 
the descendants of those, who only a few years pre- 

1 From Judges i. 8, it would appear that Jerusalem had been taken 
by Judah, set fire to, and the inhabitants smitten ; but it is evident 
from v. 21, that, though some considerable success was then obtained 
against them, the conquest could not have been complete. The Jebu- 
sites continued to dwell there under some treaty ; and from the fact 
that Jerusalem was never actually possessed till the time of Ddvid, it 
is plain that the Jebusites must still have retained the citadel. 


viously were straining every nerve to abolish idols, 
now seen bowing to Baal and Ashtaroth, conse- 
crating their children as priests to these deities, and 
even offering the blood of their children in sacri- 
fice. (Psalm cvi.) Many who proceeded not to these 
extremes had nevertheless idols in their houses ; 
whilst others maintained Levites, who conformed to 
a mingled worship of true religion and idolatry. 

Together with the superstitions of the heathen, 
they quickly also became polluted with their licen- 
tiousness. One instance of depravity forms too im- 
portant a feature in the history of the Benjamites to 
be passed over in silence. An atrocious outrage was 
committed by the inhabitants of Gibeah of Ben- 
jamin, upon the concubine of a Levite, who was 
journeying through that city, and which caused her 
death. The injured husband, for the purpose of 
arousing the indignation of Israel, resorted to the 
revolting expedient of cutting up her violated body 
into twelve portions, and sending one to each of the 
tribes of Israel. It produced the desired effect. 
There was sufficient moral virtue still latent in the 
nation to determine the tribes to avenge the abomi- 
nation. They had long ceased to ask counsel of God 
in their proceedings ; but in this instance they had 
recourse to Phinehas, who was still living; and with 
the Lord's sanction they sent forth their hosts against 
Gibeah, to the number of 400,000 fighting men. The 
Benjamites not only refused to give up the perpetra- 
tors of this deed, but threw an army of 26,000 men 
into Gibeah for the defence of the inhabitants. 
The Israelites, though encouraged by the Lord to 
undertake this war, were nevertheless severely pu- 
nished themselves in the first instance, and suffered 


a loss of 40,000 men in two different sallies from the 
town. The next encounter however proved almost 
entire destruction to the besieged : the city was taken, 
and only a few hundred men escaped from the slaugh- 
ter which followed, and fled into the wilderness. 
The Hebrews then turned their hand against the 
remaining cities of the Benjamites, setting fire to 
all that they captured, and destroying the male in- 
habitants. The tribe of Benjamin would have been 
exterminated, had not the Lord interposed; and the 
compassion of Israel was now exercised in fostering 
the remnant that was spared, providing them wives, 
and in other respects promoting their welfare. This 
is the first civil war recorded in their history. 

Terrible as was this chastisement, the generality 
of the nation nevertheless soon relapsed, and the 
same superstitions and abominations again polluted 
the land and provoked the anger of the Almighty. 
A long period indeed ensued, the narrative of which 
is chequered by the relation of the frequent aposta- 
cies of the people, of the tyrants whom God conse- 
quently permitted to oppress them, and of the eminent 
deliverers whom he raised up on their repentance. 
For God was ever faithful to punish them, when 
they needed correction ; and compassionate to relieve 
them, when they were humbled under the rod. 

The first judge or ruler of any note after Joshua 
was Othniel of Judah, a nephew of the renowned 
Caleb. God had delivered the nation into the power 
of Chushanrishathaim, a king of Mesopotamia, who 
had reduced them to bondage during eight years. 
The particulars of Othniel's conquests are not re- 
lated ; but the land afterwards enjoyed rest for the 
remainder of his life, during which the people were 


in some measure restrained from idolatry by his in- 
fluence. But at his death they again fell into trans- 
gression, when Eglonthe kingofMoabwas permitted 
to obtain a mastery over them; and together with 
the Ammonites and Amalekites oppressed them dur- 
ing eighteen years. But when the Hebrews humbled 
themselves, God raised up Ehud, a Benjamite, who 
having killed Eglon, put 10,000 Moabites to the sword. 

Their next revolt brought them under the yoke of 
the Philistines, from whom Shamgar, a Benjamite, 
was the instrument of rescuing them, after having 
himself slain 600 of the enemy with an ox goad. 1 

After this they were oppressed for twenty years by 
Jabin, king of Canaan, who reigned in Hazor. 2 He 
had 900 chariots of iron, and a captain general of 
great prowess and renown, named Sisera. The con- 
dition to which the Hebrews were reduced by him, 
(and in the days of Shamgar, with which this period 
was probably coeval,) may be judged of in some 
measure from the song of triumph which celebrates 
their deliverance. The villages were deserted ; no 
Israelite dared to appear in the high ways, but they 
were compelled to travel by unknown tracks and 
by-paths ; those inhabitants who were permitted to 
cultivate the land were disarmed, and none could go 
out even to draw water without danger of violence. 
A prophetess however was raised up in Israel, 
named Deborah. She resided in Mount Ephraini, 

1 These are formidable weapons in the present day. Maundrell 
describes one, which had a shaft eight feet long, with a pike or goad 
at one end, and a spade for cleaning the plough at the other. 

2 Joshua subdued one Jabin, king of Hazor, (Joshua xf. 1, 10.) and 
burnt his city. This was probably a descendant of his, who tpok ad- 
vantage of the weakness of Israel to rebuild the city, and extend his 


and the people once more gave indication of return- 
ing to the Lord, by resorting to her for counsel and 
instruction. By express direction from God she sum- 
moned Barak, a prince of the house of Naphtali, to 
march toward Mount Tabor with an army of 1.0,000 
men, before whom the forces of Sisera were over- 
thrown, and their leader obliged to abandon the 
chariot in which he rode, and to flee away on foot. 
He effected his escape in the first instance to the 
Kenites, the descendants of Jethro, the father-in-law 
of Moses, but was put to death by Jael, the wife of 
Heber, the master of the tent in which he took refuge, 
who drove a nail through his temples, as he lay 
wearied and in a deep sleep on the ground. The 
Israelites followed up this victory until they had de- 
stroyed the king of Canaan himself; after which the 
land again had a considerable period of rest. 

After this they again "did evil in the sight of the 
Lord ; " and the national delinquency was immediately 
visited with another national chastisement, by means 
of the Midianites. The tyranny which the Hebrews 
endured from them was so severe, that numbers betook 
themselves to hiding-places ; and at this period many 
of those dens and caves were constructed, which 
still remain in the mountains and fastnesses of Pal- 
estine. The corn which they had sown was entirely 
destroyed by the Midianites, who with bands of 
Amalekites, and other confederates from the east, 
described as being like grass-hoppers for multitude, 
left no sustenance either for man or beast. But Is- 
rael was once more also in humiliation ; when the 
Lord selected for their deliverance Gideon, of the 
tribe of Manasseh, who having had his own faith 
previously confirmed by notable signs, assembled 


an army of 32,000 men. But God would in this in- 
stance have it clearly seen by his people, that the 
battle is of the Lord and not of man ; and having 
therefore selected from out of this number only 300 
men, he dismissed the remainder to their tents. Gi- 
deon divided this small band into three companies 
of one hundred each, and having procured for every 
man a trumpet, a pitcher, and a lamp, he marched 
them at night against the enemy, in three different 
directions, charging them to maintain a strict silence 
and to cover their lamps with their pitchers. On 
arriving at the out-posts of the Midianites, who were 
spread along the valley of Moreh, the whole on a sig- 
nal broke their pitchers, displayed the lights, sounded 
the trumpets, and rushed upon the enemy; who fled 
panic-struck, mistaking and hewing down each other. 
The Hebrews who had been dismissed to their tents 
now joined in the pursuit, and the Ephraimites taking 
possession of the fords, cut off the enemy's retreat, 
and a great slaughter ensued. Two Midianitish 
princes, mentioned in the Hebrew Psalms, Oreb and 
Zeeb, fell into their hands, and were slain, the one at 
a rock, the other at a wine- press, afterwards called 
by their names. Gideon, in the mean while, pursued 
after a detached corps, headed by Zeba and Zalmunna, 
two other Midianitish princes, which corps he com- 
pletely exterminated. Thus was this multitude of 
enemies destroyed, the immense number of 135,000 
having perished by the sword. The gold of the ear- 
rings alone, which was awarded to Gideon as his 
share of the spoil, weighed 1700 shekels. 1 

i What belonged to the four Midianitish kings also, fell to the share 
of Gideon, They were attired in purple raiment, (which was there- 
fore an ensign of royalty in those days,) and appear to have been 
superbly decorated with golden ornaments, collars and chains. 


The conduct and victory of Gideon infused into 
the Hebrews so great a confidence in him, that they 
now proposed to make him king over Israel, and to 
render the monarchy hereditary in his family ; but 
he piously declined it, both for himself and children, 
declaring that the Lord should continue to be their 
ruler. But though Gideon acted with integrity to- 
ward God in the main, and restrained the people by 
his influence from open idolatry, he nevertheless 
made an ephod of the spoil taken from the Midianites, 
and set it up in Ophrah, and all Israel is said to have 
gone a whoring after it, and it became a snare to 
Gideon and to his house. 1 No sooner was he de- 
ceased than the nation generally relapsed into the 
worship of Baal, and the family of Gideon was un- 
gratefully treated ; a recompense for his error in the 
matter of the ephod. 

Gideon left no less than seventy sons by different 
wives, and another also, named Abimelech, by a con- 
cubine of Shechem. Abimelech, who was a cruel 
and crafty person, conspired with his citizens, by an 
appeal to their vanity and political selfishness, to 
destroy the seventy legitimate sons of Gideon, and 
to give to him the sovereignty which his father had 
rejected. They were consequently all murdered, 
excepting Jotham the youngest, who contrived to 
make his escape. But God punished this treachery 
of Abimelech and his citizens by making each party 
a curse and scourge to the other. The men of She- 

1 The way the ephod is mentioned in this place j (viz. that it was 
manufactured of the golden ear-rings, and set «p, and became an 
object of ensnaring Israel and. seducing them from God,) suggests the 
idea that it must have been something more than the robe or girdle, 
or that there was more than one kind of ephod. (See also the mention 
of it in Judges xvii. 5, and 1 Sam. xxiii. 9.) 


chem were so oppressed by his tyranny, that at the 
end of three years they sought to compass his de- 
struction; whilst he, on his part, watched like a 
leopard over their city, and succeeded by various 
surprises in destroying the inhabitants, and razing 
the city to the ground. But proceeding afterwards 
to deal in like manner with the inhabitants of Thebez, 
a neighbouring city, a woman hurled part of a mill- 
stone on his head from the top of the tower, and 
killed him on the spot. 

Nothing particular is recorded for forty-five years 
after this, except the names of two judges who 
ruled during that period, Tola and Jair ; and that the 
people became still more addicted to the worship of 
idols. Baal, Ashteroth, Chemosh, Chiun, Dagon, 
Moloch, which were deities of Zidonia, Moab, Am- 
nion and Philistia, were all of them introduced into 
Israel; some of the Hebrews substituting idols in 
place of the worship of Jehovah ; and others retain- 
ing his rites, but superadding the worship of images. 
For these things the Lord again chastised them, by 
giving them into the hands of the Ammonites and 

From the Ammonites they were after a while deli- 
vered by Jephthah, who having been expelled from 
Gilead through a faction raised up by his own bre- 
thren, had afterwards become powerful, as chief over 
a band of free-booters. He was nevertheless influ- 
enced by the fear of God, and after his countrymen 
had recalled him and made him their head, the Spirit 
of God came upon him and specially endowed him 
for the appointed work. He speedily subdued the 
Ammonites; but two circumstances tended greatly 
to damp the public satisfaction at the victory. The 


one was an inconsiderate vow, which Jephthah 
had previously made, to offer as a burnt-offering, in 
case he returned victorious, the first person which 
should come forth to welcome him from his own 
house. This happened to be his only child, a daugh- 
ter, who advanced to meet him at the head of a train 
of damsels, dancing and playing on timbrels ; and 
she was consequently devoted to a life of celibacy, 
(Judges xi. 39.) to the great grief of her father, and 
exciting the commiseration of all. 1 

The other event was far more tragical in its issue, 
and was occasioned by the Ephraimites, who took 
umbrage at not having been summoned by Jephthah 
to the battle; whence a brief but bloody civil war 
ensued, which he was unable to quell until he had 
destroyed 42,000 men of Ephraim. This is the first 

J Much difference of opinion exists with regard to the actual fate of 
this young person. The conclusion of some, that Jephthah actually 
offered his daughter as a hurnt sacrifice, in the same manner as the 
heathen did their children to Moloch, is encompassed with great im- 
probabilities. 1st. It was incompatible with the character of a re- 
former (as all these deliverers were,) and a man of piety and faith, 
(Heb. xi. 32.) to persist in offering to God what was so notoriously an 
abomination. 2dly. Jephthah could only devote his daughter ; he 
could not sacrifice her himself, not being a priest ; and to suppose 
that the priests, who were not under the obligation of the vow, would 
concur in such an act, is again improbable. 3dly. It infers the vow 
of Jephthah to have been not only " rash," (as it is usually called) but 
silly also. For what could he have expected would have come forth 
from his own doors to welcome him (for such is the meaning of the 
original) but human beings : unless it were a dog, which would 
equally have been an abomination as a sacrifice. But the Septuagint 
and Vulgate render it " whosoever cometh forth from my doors," not 
whatsoever, which I have therefore adopted in the text. 4th . It loses 
sight of the fact, that the male children of all Israel were required as 
sacrifices to the Lord, but they were redeemable. (Ex. xiii. Numb, 
xviii.) The fact, I apprehend, was, that she was dedicated to God in 
the same manner that Samuel and others were ; but that in her case 
a life of celibacy was required, which was destructive to the hope of 
Jephthah's leaving behind him a posterity in Israel, she being an only 


decided indication mentioned of the jealousy of the 
Ephraimites, which ultimately will be found to lead 
to serious consequences. They were the most con- 
siderable of the tribes in number ; they were de- 
scended from the eminent Joseph, whose bones were 
still preserved among them ; the birth-right or pre- 
eminence, which was taken from Reuben, was given 
to them, by virtue of their precedency over Manas- 
seh ; 1 Joshua, the most glorious of the Hebrew con- 
querors, was likewise of their tribe; the engraved 
transcript of the law was set up on Mount Ebal in 
their territory ; and the tabernacle, being likewise 
pitched among them, to which all Israel resorted at 
the great festivals, constituted Shiloh the metropolis 
of the entire nation. These things tended to make 
Ephraim proud of their political importance and 

[a.m. 2870.] There is considerable obscurity with 
regard to the order of the events connected with this 
period. It seems evident, from Judges x. 7. that the 
long Philistine oppression began contemporaneously 
with the Ammonitish ; in which case also Ibzan, 
Elon and Abdon, three other judges, whose names 
only are mentioned in scripture, must have been con- 
temporary (in part at least,) with Jephthah, who only 
survived the war with the Ephraimites about six 
years. In the first year (as many have inferred,) of 
this period, two remarkable persons were born, 
Samuel and Samson, the last of the judges of Israel. 
To avoid confusion however in the history, Samson 
must be first separately noticed and dismissed. 

The birth of Samson was remarkable from the cir- 

1 See 1 Chron. v. 1, 2, and the note p. 19- 


cu instance that his mother was previously barren, 
and that he was the child of promise made by an 
angel to his parents, who were Danites of Zorah. By 
divine direction he was brought up strictly as a Na- 
zarite, or one dedicated to God; and at an early 
period he gave indication that the power of God was 
with him. 

His first adventure was the ripping in twain a 
young lion, which roared against him in the way, and 
which, by a sudden impulse of the Spirit he darted 
on and tore, with as much ease as if it had been a 
kid. This happened on his way to Timnath, a city 
of the Philistines, whither he was journeying to pay 
his addresses to a young woman, with whose beauty 
he was captivated. His parents remonstrated against 
the match ; but Samson's natural temper was way- 
ward and impetuous; and an observation of the 
sacred penman relative to this circumstance (Judges 
xiv. 4,) shews that it was so overruled in this matter 
and ordered of God, that whilst his conduct proved a 
means of vexation, and therefore of righteous cor- 
rection, to himself, it afforded him various just occa- 
sions of punishing the Philistines, whom the Lord 
raised him up to chastise. 

Samson again went to Timnah to marry the woman ; 
and in the course of the nuptial festivities proposed 
a riddle for solution to the thirty Philistine youths 
appointed as honorary attendants ; with the condition 
that, if they guessed it within the week of the feast, 
he would give to each of them a sheet and a change 
of raiment; and that if they failed they should each 
give one to him. At the expiration of the time they 
were unable to resolve it ; but his wife, intimidated by 
their menaces, (who threatened else to destroy both 


her and her father's family,) extorted it from him and 
betrayed it. Samson was vexed, but dissembling his 
anger, he went forth privily to Ashkelon, slew thirty 
Philistines and with the spoil discharged his engage- 
ment. The damsel was nevertheless perfidiously given 
to another; incensed at which Samson withdrew, and 
having entrapped a large number of foxes, he tied 
them tail to tail, and affixing a lighted firebrand to 
each pair, drove them into the cornfields and vine- 
yards of the enemy. On learning who was the au- 
thor of this injury, and his motive for inflicting it, the 
Philistines went up and destroyed the damsel, toge- 
ther with her father and his family; thus bringing 
upon them that punishment for their treachery, 
through fear of which they had been guilty of it. 

The wrath of Samson was not yet appeased : he 
suddenly fell upon a body of the Philistines, and 
having made great havoc among them, retreated to 
the top of the rock Etam in the territory of Judah. 
The Philistines demanded him of the men of Judah ; 
and Samson suffered them to deliver him bound to 
the enemy ; but whilst they shouted with exultation 
on beholding him their captive, the Spirit of God 
came mightily upon him ; in an instant he snapped 
asunder his bonds, and seizing the jaw-bone of an 
ass, which happened to be at hand, he attacked his 
enemies with irresistible impetuosity, and slew a 
thousand of them therewith. 

This action, like all the rest of those performed by 
Samson, was effected by his own individual prowess, 
without the aid of any army or band of followers; 
and from this time he appears to have been looked 
up to as a deliverer, and constituted a judge in 


[a.m. 2890.] — The sensual passions of Samson ap- 
pear throughout to have been the cause of his diffi- 
culties and dangers, at the same time that they gave 
occasion to the display of his heroism and superna- 
tural strength. We next find him watched into the 
house of a harlot at Gaza of the Philistines, the inha- 
bitants of which city, conceiving that they had him 
secure within their walls, waited quietly till the 
morning. But he arose at midnight, and wrenched 
away in one mass the strong gates of the city, with 
the jambs or sideposts, barred and locked together as 
they were, and placing his shoulders under the pon- 
derous burden, he carried them away to the top of a 
hill before Hebron. 

He next placed his affections on a wily and heart- 
less courtezan among the Philistines, named Delilah, 
She, at the instance of her countrymen, who pro- 
mised her a large reward if she could discover the 
secret of Samson's strength and deliver him alive, 
was constantly pressing him to disclose wherein it 
consisted. For some time he amused and deceived 
her; but at length, though he had repeated evidence 
of her perfidy, he was so much infatuated as to reveal 
to her the truth : viz., that the secret of his strength 
was in his hair ; but that if his head were shorn he 
would become as another man. His artful mistress 
soon found opportunity to inveigle him to sleep with 
his head upon her lap, whilst a man who was in rea- 
diness came in and cut off bis locks. Samson awoke 
from his sleep at the rush in of the Philistines, who 
were in ambush ; but found, alas! not only that his 
hair was gone, but that the Spirit of the Lord was 
likewise departed, and he became weak before his 


The Philistines spared his life only that, with a 
barbarity more cruel than death, they might reserve 
him for mockery and sport. They put out his eyes, 
and having bound him with fetters, compelled him to 
exercise his once formidable strength in grinding 
corn in the common prison of Gaza. But the moment 
of triumph and exultation proved likewise one of sig- 
nal retribution. A day of sacrifice to Dagon, their 
god, was appointed for this inglorious achievement. 1 
The edifice, in which the festival was celebrated, was 
so constructed, that though it was of vast dimensions, 
having galleries upon the roof, looking into the inner 
court or hall, which were capable of containing 3000 
persons, yet was its main support dependent upon 
two principal pillars, placed near to each other. Into 
the space below were gathered the nobles of Phi- 
listia ; whilst the roof or galleries were filled with 
spectators, looking on from above at the sport afforded 
by Samson, who was led about among the multitude 
beneath, to be gazed at and insulted. The hair of 
Samson had begun to grow during his confinement, 
and he experienced in himself symptoms of returning 
strength ; he now therefore entreated the youth, who 
led him about, to suffer him to rest awhile against 

* Dagon, according to Sanchoniatho, the Phoenician historian, sig- 
nified bread-corn, (the same as 'S.irav in Greek,) of which he was the 
discoverer, and also the inventor of the plough ; wherefore the Greeks 
worshipped him under the name of Zeus Arotrius. Sanchoniatho 
makes him to be a son of Ouranus or Noah, and if so, from his settling 
in Phoenicia he was evidently Ham. Though I incline to think that 
Sanchoniatho here confounds him with Canaan, the son of Ham, 
whom he more probably was j for he attributes to Ouranus four sons— 
Ilus or Cronus, Betytus, Dagon and Atlas. But Cronus was undoubt- 
edly Ham, and as Shem and Japhet did not settle in Phoenicia, there 
is no mode of accounting for Dagon but by concluding him to have 
been the grandson, instead of the son of Noah. (Seethe remarks on 
Ham and Canaan, pages 8, 9, and also Sanchoniatho on the Genera- 
tions in Eusebius.) 


the two main pillars of the edifice. The youth unwit- 
tingly complied ; when Samson, having offered a brief 
but effectual prayer to the God of Israel, spread forth 
his arms so as to reach the two pillars with his hands, 
and bowing himself with all his might, and exclaim- 
ing, "Let me die with the Philistines" the supports 
yielded to his prodigious strength, and the building 
fell, burying in one common ruin both Samson him- 
self and the whole assembled glory of Philistia. 

There is a melancholy grandeur in the fate of Sam- 
son that excites both our pity and our admiration ; 
but he is nevertheless the least amiable and en- 
gaging, and the one we least sympathize with, of all 
those heroes of Israel who obtained a good report 
through faith. (Heb. xi. 32.) His history however 
serves to illustrate the superior value of a small mea- 
sure only of the inwardly sanctifying power of God's 
Spirit, compared with that miraculous energy which 
was exerted physically in Samson. 

[a.m. 2870.] The birth of Samuel, like that of his 
co temporary, was likewise the consequence of a di- 
vine promise and interposition. His father was a 
Levite named Elkanah, and his mother the pious and 
inspired Hannah, who is the first that speaks of the 
Seed promised to Abraham, under the title of king 
and Messiah, i. e. " the anointed." Like Samson, 
also, he was dedicated as a Nazarite from his birth ; 
and when he was only a year old, was taken up by 
his mother and confided to the care of Eli, who was 
then high priest. 

The prevailing ungodliness of this period was 
greatly aggravated by the scandalous behaviour of 
the priests in their sacred office. Eli, the aged pon- 
tiff, was himself a pious, but weak man; and be- 


trayed that failing too frequent among religious 
persons, — the want of exercising proper discipline 
and authority over his children. The consequence 
was, that his sons had become so profligate in morals, 
and withal so indecorous in the discharge of^their 
ministerial office, that the public were disgusted, and 
neglected the worship of the tabernacle. 

[a.m. 2882—2910.] A prophet of God had already 
warned Eli of the wrath he was provoking, and de- 
clared to him, (as an earnest that the punishment he 
was about to receive was of God,) that his two sons, 
Hophni and Phinehas, should both die in one day. 
The same awful denunciations were now reiterated 
by Samuel, who at the early age of twelve years (as 
is supposed) was established by evident tokens, and 
reverenced throughout Israel, as a prophet of the 
Lord. The threatenings were speedily fulfilled. The 
Hebrews appear to have gained courage at length, 
from the exploits of Samson, to meet the Philistines 
once more in the open field ; but a conflict disastrous 
for Israel ensued. The encounter took place near 
Mizpeh, and the Hebrews were defeated in the first 
engagement with the loss of 4000 men. The captains 
of the Hebrew army, conceiving that this reverse 
would not have happened had the ark of God been 
with them, sent to Shiloh for it ; and Eli without any 
warrant from the Lord, rashly, though tremblingly, 
despatched it. 1 It was borne into the camp, attended 
by the sons of Eli ; and the Philistines, who learned 
the occasion of the tremendous shouts and cheering 
of the Hebrews as they welcomed it, were now filled 

l It is evident from this narrative that the army must have been 
near to Shiloh ; and as they are described in the first instance as near 
Mizpeh, it again shews it to be identical with Shiloh, 
L 2 


with dismay. Nevertheless, God inclined not to his 
people at this time; and when therefore on the fol- 
lowing day the battle was renewed, Israel was de- 
feated with the loss of 30,000 in slain, among whom 
were the two sons of Eli ; atad the ark of God was 
captured by the enemy. 

The news of this defeat was speedily carried by a 
fugitive to Shiloh, where Eli was seated in the gate, 1 
anxiously awaiting the result of the ark leaving the 
tabernacle ; and on receiving the intelligence of its 
capture and the death of his sons, he fell backward 
from his seat and broke his neck. Thus he died in 
the 98th year of his age ; having acted as judge in 
Israel during forty years. 

The Philistines found the possession of the ark a 
source of trouble, rather than of advantage. As often 
as they attempted to set it up in their temple at 
Ashdod, the idol Dagon was found prostrate and 
mutilated before it in the morning. The whole land 
was visited with a great plague of mice ; and the in- 
habitants of those cities, to which the ark was car- 
ried, were smitten with a flux of an aggravated and 
fatal character. Having been passed about from 
town to town, it came at length to Ekron ; the inha- 
bitants of which, alarmed at the presence of the mys- 
terious and awful visitor, placed it in a cart, and 
abandoned it to the guidance of two milch kine, un- 
accustomed to the yoke, and separated from their 
calves ; who nevertheless, by an overruling and man- 
ifestly stronger power, took the opposite road to 
their young, yet lowing after them as they went, and 

l The gate so frequently mentioned in scripture, was an open space 
within the barrier or chief entrance of the city, and was the market- 
place or forum, where provisions were sold and the courts were held-, 


stopped at last near Bethshemesh. The inhabitants 
of this city at first rejoiced at its arrival ; but a carnal 
curiosity led them to flock in multitudes to gaze at 
the ark, and to examine its interior; on which they 
were visited with a pestilence which destroyed many. 
And awed, in their turn, at the presence of so holy 
and so jealous a God, they now sent messengers to 
Kirjath-jearim, the men of which came down with 
Levites, and removed the ark to their city, in which it 
remained for many years. 1 

[a.m. 2931.] Twenty years elapsed under Samuel, 
and notwithstanding his popularity and influence, 
the same transgressions were still persisted in. At 
length, however, he prevailed on the nation to as- 
semble together at Mizpeh, (the scene of their defeat 
under Eli,) where they now observed a solemn fast, 
confessing their sins, and putting away their idols. 
The Philistines had intelligence of this assembly, 
and instantly despatched a large body of troops 
against them ; but Jehovah discomfited them by a 
tremendous tempest of thunder and lightning ; and 
the Hebrews falling upon them before they had 
recovered from the panic, a complete overthrow en- 

The nation being thus delivered, the cities retaken 
of which it had been despoiled, and a peace con- 
cluded with the Amorites, Samuel next applied him- 
self to the regulation of internal matters. He fixed 
his general residence at Ramah ; but he established 
an annual circuit or visitation to Bethel, Gilgal, and 
Mizpeh, at each of which places he held a sessions, 

1 The name Kirjath-jearim signifies Fields of the wood, and explains 
the allusion in Psalm cxxxii. 6. 


for the purpose of dispensing judgment more con- 
veniently. The church of God once more enjoyed a 
period of repose ; religion flourished ; and peace and 
good order were maintained. 

Another era of the Hebrew history now commences ; 
previous to entering upon which it may be here re- 
marked, that we have seen nothing in the period just 
reviewed, that can be considered a plenary fulfilment 
of the promises concerning the possession of the land, 
though this period includes within it the settlement 
in Canaan. A considerable portion of it was un- 
doubtedly occupied under Joshua; and so far his 
possession of it may be considered as the pledge and 
earnest of a more complete one. But even under 
him strong places were left unsubdued in the midst 
of their inheritance; and if we consider the original 
grant,— from the river of Egypt 1 to Lebanon, and from 
the Euphrates to the sea,— the larger portion of it was 
still under the power of the Gentiles. 

l A river on the south frontier of Philistia has been supposed by 
many to be the river of Egypt, chiefly on account of this limited occu- 
pation of the territory, and is laid down in some maps as " Sihor the 
river of Egypt." Other geographers call the Nile " Sihor," and the 
" river of Egypt." (See the maps e.g. in Bishop Mant's Bible.) Sihor 
is only twice mentioned in the scriptures, (Joshua xiii. 3, and Jer. ii. 
18.) and in both places it seems too closely identified with Egypt 
itself to be separated by a distance of upwards of 100 miles, which 
would be the case were the former river intended. Besides, the Gesh- 
urites, mentioned Judges xiii. 2, lay north of it, which is fatal to 
the hypothesis that the Canaanitish river can be intended as the boun- 
dary of the grant to the patriarchs. 




[a.m. 2932.] — The political functions exercised by 
those who were called judges of Israel, during the 
period last narrated, were principally the military 
and magisterial. Some were raised up merely to 
fight the battles of the nation, and to deliver them 
from foreign tyranny; others have no warlike deeds 
recorded of them, and appear only to have been 
arbitrators of the differences between individuals, and 
perhaps to have expounded and enforced the obser- 
vance of the civil law. At some periods the two 
classes of functions were so distinct, as to have been 
exercised by two different individuals ; as in the case 
of Deborah and Barak, and again of Eli and Samson, 
all of whom are said to have judged Israel, though 
the two former and the two latter were contempora- 
neous with each other. The extent of the influence 
of the judges depended upon circumstances. In some 
instances their authority was not respected beyond 
the limits of their own tribe; scarcely indeed be- 
yond the borders of the city in which they resided ; 


and even Gideon and Jephthah were bearded by the 
Ephraimites. But in proportion as the ability of the 
judge, and the advantages of his rule, were recognized, 
other tribes appear to have voluntarily submitted to 
his authority; and the more prosperous and influen- 
tial of them thus acquired, toward the decline of their 
life, the homage of the entire nation, and were virtu- 
ally kings. This is evident from the language used 
by Abimelech and Jotham, sons of Gideon, to the 
Shechemites ; the former pointing out to them the 
advantage of having only one to u reign " over them 
instead of seventy ; and the other reproaching them 
for making Abimelech <fc king" 1 

But though the Judges were in certain instances 
virtually kings, the condition of Israel under them 
was very different from that of a monarchy. We do 
not find that the most powerful among them exercised 
the functions of legislators. At the worst periods of 
this era every man did what was right in his own 
eyes ; in more favourable times they were coerced by 
the local authorities within their own tribe, or by the 
individual whose influence procured for him a juris- 
diction over all the tribes ; but he never attempted to 
add to or modify the laws. Unlike also to the princes 
of the adjacent tribes and nations, the Hebrew judges 
exercised no arbitrary power over the persons or pro- 
perty of the people, who were, strictly speaking, free. 
Again, the judge had no standing army; neither was 
there any regalia or state attached to the office, be- 
yond what they were enabled to maintain out of their 

' Moses is styled " king in Jeshurun," (Deut. xxxiii. 5,) and often 
likewise it is said of certain events, that they took place when there 
was "no king (meaning no judge) in Israel." See Judges xvii. 6, 
xviii. l, xix, l, and xxi. 25. 


own private resources : the people were not taxed for 
the support of their dignity, and a larger portion of 
the spoil taken in battle, together with spontaneous 
offerings and presents, appear to have been all the 
pecuniary advantages they derived. Moreover, the 
office was not hereditary, but terminated with the life 
of the individual who held it; when sometimes an 
interregnum occurred, in which there was no judge 
in Israel. 

The constitution, therefore, of the state was still a 
theocracy ; Jehovah being really their king, judge, 
and lawgiver; and the ruler from among themselves 
nothing more than his minister and internuncio ; de- 
claring what the Lord had previously revealed con- 
cerning matters in hand, and consulting him for gui- 
dance whensoever the exigency required it. 

The people however had come at length to dislike 
this state of manifest dependence upon God; and 
that fickleness, which constantly sought after novel- 
ties in religious matters, was as little disposed to be 
satisfied with a monotonous political condition. The 
present circumstances of the nation were certainly 
not encouraging to those who were destitute of faith 
in Jehovah, — always a fearfully large proportion. 
They were surrounded by enemies, who were ready 
at any time to take advantage of a favourable oppor- 
tunity to fall upon them. The Ammonite Syrians, 
under their king Nahash, had already assumed a 
menacing attitude. And the Philistines, though they 
had recently been defeated by Samuel, were never- 
theless rapidly recovering from the blow, and begin- 
ning again to overawe the Hebrews. When, therefore, 
the more unstable portion of the nation looked 
around, and perceived how they were threatened, 


together with their general unreadiness for war, — 
there being no permanent leader among themselves, 
like the sovereigns of the nations round about, sur- 
rounded by experienced soldiers, and prepared at 
any time to lead them to battle,— they became un- 
easy ; nor did the recollection of former deliverances 
inspire them with confidence in God. 

Another circumstance had created considerable 
dissatisfaction in the nation. Samuel, on account of 
his increasing age, (now verging on seventy years) 
had associated with him in the office of magistrate 
his two sons ; but they proved accessible to bribery. 
The evil was undoubtedly a serious one ; but it is the 
fault of mankind in general to overlook the natural 
depravity of human nature, which, under any form of 
government, is still the same, and to suppose that 
every public grievance arises from the particular con- 
stitution under which they live. The grievance was 
apparently remedied by Samuel, by the removal of 
his sons from office; (for when he soon afterwards 
challenged the people to lay anything to his charge, 
they were silent on this head ;) but they nevertheless 
made this grievance a pretext for demanding of Sa- 
muel to set a king over them. Samuel took umbrage 
at the demand, but carried the matter before the 
Lord ; when he was reminded, that the affront was 
not so much offered to him as to Jehovah himself, 
whose sovereignty it was that they were really tired 
of. He is instructed also to warn the people both 
of the wickedness and folly of their request, and of 
the probable domestic tyranny to which they would 
subject themselves;' but as they would not hearken 

i There is a strikingly apposite sentiment in a heathen writer on 


to reason, but persisted, their prayer was conceded, 
though in anger. 

SAUL.— The person selected of God to be king, 
was Saul, the son of Kish, of a noble family in Ben- 
jamin. God first informed Samuel of the choice, and 
then, to assure him of the identical person, declared 
that he would bring him to Samuel to Ramah on a 
certain day, to consult him on a particular subject. 
On the day appointed Saul appeared, and made the 
inquiry exactly as predicted; upon which Samuel 
entertained him, and afterwards, to the great asto- 
nishment of Saul, declared to him the purpose of 
God, and anointed him king over Israel. Returning 
to his home at Gibeah, Saul was on the way endued 
by the Spirit with the gifts and capacity suited for 
his high office, and became "another man;" and 
falling in afterwards with a company of prophets, 
who, like the bards of oH, were furnished with musi- 
cal instruments (the psaltery, tabret, pipe and harp,) 
and prophesying as they went, the afflatus came like- 
wise upon Saul, and he prophesied with them. So 
that it became a proverb in Israel, " Is Saul also 
among the prophets ?" These things, and other in- 
cidents which occurred to him on his return, were 
previously predicted by Samuel, for the. satisfaction 
also of Saul. 

Shortly after these events Samuel convened a 
general assembly of the nation to Mizpeh, and there, 
without declaring what had transpired with respect 
to Saul, he proceeded more publicly to elect a king 

this point,—" He that desires to be governed by law, desires that God 
should be his sovereign. He that desires to be governed by a king, 
that is by a man, desires to be subject to a wild beast, as it were, 
since man is influenced by his passions rather than by his reason." 
(Aristotle : Polit.j 


by lot. The manner of proceeding was by first de- 
claring the tribe chosen, next the clan or family of 
that tribe, and next the individual of the family ; by 
which process Saul was again designated. This re- 
markable coincidence, between the sortilege and the 
prediction, was greatly calculated to confirm both 
Saul and Samuel in the conviction that the hand of 
God was in the matter; and strikingly illustrates, for 
the benefit of all mankind, how impossible it is for 
any event to happen, however apparently trivial or 
accidental, without the prescience and direction of 
God. 1 

Saul exhibited a remarkable bashfulness on this 
occasion. On his return from Samuel in the first in- 
stance, he had suppressed, in the narrative of his 
adventures to his family, all that related to his being 
anointed king ; and now when the election was pub- 
licly declared, he concealed himself, and was at 
length dragged forth from his hiding place with a 
seeming reluctance for the elevation. The multitude 
on beholding him was delighted with his personal 
beauty and commanding stature, (a matter regarded 
by the ancients as of great importance in respect to 
their kings ; 2 ) and the air was rent with shouts of God 
save the king. Thus the Lord gave to Israel a king 
after their oiun heart. 

Samuel having explained to the people what was 
to be the form and constitution of the monarchy, and — 
inscribed it in a book, 3 dismissed the people to their 

i So the proverb,—" The lot is cast into the lap, (to be shaken up) 
but the entire disposal thereof is of the Lord." Prov. xvi. 33. 

2 Herodotus, iii. 20, vii. 187. Arist. Polit. iv. 4. 

3 It is said to have been laid up before the Lord ; but the particulars 
of it are nowhere explained. It probably prescribed the manner of 
the succession to the throne, and denned the royal prerogative. 


homes ; and Saul returned to Gibeah enriched with 
various offerings from the people, and accompanied 
by a body guard of youthful volunteers, whose hearts 
God inclined toward him. After this however he 
appears to have retired to his ordinary mode of life, 
and not to have assumed at first the state or authority 
of king. 

An opportunity however presently occurred for 
calling forth his energies. The Ammonites iaid siege 
at length to Jabesh-Gilead, and were on the point of 
capturing the city, when the inhabitants found means 
to apprise Saul, who summoned all Israel to his 
standard. The people, moved by the fear of God, 
assembled to the number of 330,000; and falling 
next day upon the Ammonites, slaughtered them 
from morning till noon, and scattered the remainder. 
There were some perverse persons, who, on the elec- 
tion of Saul to be king, openly expressed sentiments 
of contempt for him, and brought him no offerings ; 
and now that he had given evidence of his military 
prowess, the people proposed to bring forth the re- 
cusants, and to put them to death. But Saul in- 
terceded and magnanimously forgave them ; — an 
act that ought to be recorded, since it is almost 
the only one in his history that redounds to his 

After this victory over the Ammonites, Samuel, 
with great disinterestedness, considering his own 
diminished power, seized the moment of Saul's popu- 
larity to propose that he should now be formally in- 
augurated. For this purpose another assembly was 
convened at Gilgal, where the nation celebrated a 
grand thanksgiving to the Lord for their victory, and 
a second time solemnly accepted Saul. Before, how- 


ever, Samuel dismissed the assembly, he obtained 
from them an explicit testimony to his own invari- 
able uprightness and integrity ; and next gave them 
a testimony that they had grievously offended in re- 
jecting God as their king. It was now wheat-harvest, 
a season of the year when rain was unusual ; but 
Samuel notified that at his prayer God would send 
thunder and rain as a token of his displeasure. The 
tempest followed, and the solemnities of the day ter- 
minated with fear and humiliation, and deprecating 
the anger of God. Samuel on this finally assured the 
people, that if they would follow the commandments 
of the Lord, he would still continue to bless them ; 
but that if they persisted in doing wickedly, then 
both they and their king should be consumed. The 
whole proceeding, in regard to this change of govern- 
ment, strikingly contradicts the infidel maxim, that 
the voice of the people is the voice of God ! 

[a.m. 2934.] The nation was next to be practically 
shown, that under whatsoever form of government 
they lived, to God they must look for safety and 
prosperity. Saul had a son already arrived at man's 
estate, named Jonathan, a youth of singular enter- 
prise and bravery, and possessing great openness of 
heart, disinterestedness and faith. Two years after 
these events, when Saul had dismissed the army, 
and retained only 3000 men, Jonathan, with only 
three hundred, rashly attacked Geba of the Philis- 
tines, and put the garrison to the sword, without 
being at all prepared to follow up the blow. The 
enraged Philistines immediately invaded the land, 
with an army of 30,000 chariots, 6,000 cavalry, and 
infantry innumerable; l and though Saul again sum- 
1 It is stated in the sacred Records, respecting the former victory 


moned Israel to his standard, he on this occasion 
obtained no reinforcement. For the people, struck 
with fear, abandoned their homes, and sought refuse 
either in the caves or fastnesses, or in the territories 
of the tribes on the east of Jordan ; whilst some actu- 
ally deserted to the enemy,— earning the inglorious 
distinction of being the first of Israel who are re- 
corded to have done so. (1 Sam. xiv. 21.) 

The Philistines encamped in Michmash, eastward 
of Bethaven, from whence they laid waste the coun- 
try in every direction and without opposition. They 
had previously disarmed the Hebrews, and their 
policy prevented them from having a smith among 
them ; so that even among the troops which followed 
Saul there was neither spear nor sword, excepting 
two which belonged to himself and Jonathan : his 
men being probably armed with ox-goads, and such 
other rude weapons as they could procure. In the 
mean while the few warriors he had were daily re- 
duced by desertion, till they dwindled down to the 
small number of 600, who were also greatly dis- 

Sensible of his danger, Saul sent for Samuel to 
propitiate God by sacrifice and offering ; but the 
latter not arriving at the time appointed, Saul be- 
came impatient and offered sacrifice himself. Samuel 
on his arrival sharply rebuked him for this offence; 
who not only had, in thus doing, invaded the office 
of the priest, but apparently contravened some ex- 

over the Philistines, '* that they were subdued, and came no more 
into the coast of Israel ; and that the hand of the Lord was against 
them all the days of Samuel." (1 Sam. vii. 13.) This must be under- 
stood as relating to all the days that Samuel was supreme governor 
or judge over Israel, and not of all the days of his life. 


press law of the kingdom recently inscribed in the 
book. (1 Sara. xiii. 13, 14.) He therefore informs 
him, that God would not establish the kingdom in 
his family, but had chosen another king, who should 
be a man after his own heart. God nevertheless de- 
termines to deliver Israel out of this extremity, but 
by the instrumentality of another. 

Saul was cooped up with his few men in Gibeab, a 
place strongly fortified by nature ; whilst the enemy 
occupied a formidable position immediately opposite. 
A guard of observation, or advanced post, was in- 
trenched upon the top of a steep rock, the area of 
which on the summit was only about half an acre ; 
and this post formed as it were the key to their whole 
position. Jonathan, with the same daring that cha- 
racterized his conduct on the former occasion, re- 
solved to steal away privily with his armour-bearer, 
and to attack this formidable post. In this instance, 
however, he challenged divine aid and protection in 
the following manner. He concerted with his ar- 
mour-bearer, that they should shew themselves to 
the garrison of this rock, and that if the men bade 
them remain where they were, until tbey came down 
to them, they would conclude that they were not to 
assail them ; but that if the garrison (which consisted 
only of twenty men) should invite them to come up, 
they would interpret it as a token from the Lord, and 
confidently proceed. 

The garrison no sooner perceived them, than, un- 
accustomed to the sight of Hebrews venturing from 
their hiding-places, they jeeringly called to them to 
ascend the rock, with the promise that they would 
shew them something. Jonathan hailed the invita- 
tion; and scrambled with difficulty up the precipice 


upon his hands and feet, followed by his attendant. 
Amazed at the unexpected boldness of the act, the 
enemy had not the courage to face Jonathan, but fell 
before his onset, and that of his armour-bearer, till 
the whole were destroyed. 

The Philistines quickly discovered that their strong 
hold was captured, and a panic, upon the intelli- 
gence, spread through their ranks. They knew not 
the number of their assailants, nor from what quarter 
to expect the attack. The absence of visible foes 
conjured up imaginary ones. Their trembling of 
heart was aggravated by a trembling of the earth 
from the Lord; and their consternation increased, 
till in their confusion and terror they began to mis- 
take friends for enemies, and to beat and tread down 
one another. The tumult having been heard by the 
watchmen of Saul, he sallied forth with his followers 
and fell upon them. The Hebrews also, who had de- 
serted to them, now turned and joined the troops of 
Saul; and, as the enemy fled, the people who were 
concealed in the caves and fastnesses rose up behind 
them, and following with unwearied vigour, com- 
pleted the rout and overthrow of the entire host. 

This great victory had nevertheless well nigh been 
damped by a tragical event to Jonathan. His father, 
in the beginning of the pursuit, had forbidden the 
people to eat or drink anything till evening, and im- 
precated a curse upon any one who should disobey. 
Jonathan being ignorant of his father's command, 
had refreshed himself with some wild honey ; and 
the people, equally wearied, then partook of the 
spoil, but without pouring out the blood of the ani- 
mals they slew. The next day, when Saul asked 
counsel of God, if he should pursue the Philistines 


further, no answer was vouchsafed ; and concluding 
that a trespass had been committed, the lot was had 
recourse to, and fell upon Jonathan, who imme- 
diately confessed what he had done. Saul was dis- 
posed to vindicate the sanctity of his own oath by 
putting Jonathan to death ; but the people, account- 
ing him to be the means of their deliverance, inter- 
posed, and would not suffer him to perish. 

Saul after this success turned his arms against 
other enemies of Israel, and attacked the Moabites, 
the Edomites, the Syrians of Zobah, (now becoming 
powerful,) and the Amalekites ; but with no decisive 
result, except in the case of the Amalekites, whom 
he destroyed, and took Agag their king prisoner. 1 
Nevertheless Saul greatly provoked in this latter ex- 
ploit the displeasure of the Almighty. For God had 
long since enjoined Israel to blot out the name of 
Amalek on the first opportunity, in consequence of 
the despiteful treatment experienced from that people 
on their first coming out of Egypt ; 2 and the war was 
now undertaken at the express direction of Jehovah, 
who enjoined Saul to make an utter destruction of 
their men and cattle. But Saul was disobedient, and 
spared their king ; whilst the army, coveting their 
numerous cattle, destroyed only the vile and refuse. 
Nor did Saul attempt any apology when reproved for 
sparing Agag, the Amalekitish king ; but in regard 
to the cattle, he threw the blame upon the people, to 
whose voice he alleged he had yielded. Upon this, 

i The mention of the wars of Saul, at the latter end of 1 Sam. xiv, 
I take to be a brief summary of the whole of his military career j and 
the more detailed account of his war with the Amalekites, nar- 
rated in chapter xv, an historical episode, describing more particu- 
larly the same event noticed in verse 48 of the previous chapter. 
2 Ex. xvii. 14. Deut. xxv. 17— 19> 


Samuel announced the judgment of God, declaring 
the family of Saul finally rejected from the throne of 
Israel ; and having ordered Agag before him, he 
caused him to be put to death. 1 This result affords 
another proof that the voice of the people is not in- 
fallible ; and also that he is unfit to be a ruler, who 
has not courage and firmness to resist their demands, 
when those demands are inconsistent with the word 
of God. It is likewise important to observe, that it 
proved no extenuation of Saul's offence, but an ag- 
gravation of it, that he was acting on this occasion 
in a political capacity. 

Samuel was next commissioned to repair to the 
house of Jesse, an aged Bethlehemite of Judah, in 
order to anoint a successor to the throne. Not to 
excite the jealousy of Saul, he appointed a sacrifice 
in Bethlehem, at the conclusion of which Jesse and 
his family were detained. On beholding Eliab, the 
eldest, who was conspicuous for his personal come- 
liness and stature, Samuel judged that he was the 
person selected ; but God informed him that he was 
not now looking, as man, upon the outward counte- 
nance, but upon the heart. Seven of the sons of 
Jesse having passed in review before Samuel, without 
his receiving any token from the Lord, he demanded 
if there were no other; on which they sent for David, 
the youngest, a youth of godly spirit, who was then 
tending his father's sheep ; and the divine signal 

i From this it appears that Samuel assumed an authority, as high 
priest, independent of Saul j neither does he appear to have been 
altogether deprived of his authority as judge. For he is said to have 
judged Israel " all the days of his life $" which extended considerably 
into Saul's reign, (l Sam. vii. 16). And when Saul first summoned 
the people to the war against the Ammonites, it was " to come forth 
after Saul and Samuel." (l Sam. xi. 7.) 
M 2 


being now given, Samuel anointed him with oil in 
the presence of his brethren. This was no sooner 
done, than the Holy Ghost came upon David ; and at 
the same time departed from Saul, who was afterward 
troubled at seasons with an evil spirit, which afflicted 
him, during the visitation, with great melancholy and 

But the people had also provoked punishment, by 
keeping the Amalekitish spoil ; and God again made 
use of the Philistines, for the double purpose of 
scourging Israel, and of introducing to their notice 
and admiration their future sovereign. The enemy 
invaded the land with a numerous army, and en- 
camped on an eminence skirting the valley of Elah ; 
the Hebrews occupying the heights on the opposite 
side. The Philistines had with them a champion 
named Goliah, a descendant of the Anakim or giants, 
a man of prodigious stature, who daily exhibited 
himself to the dismay of Israel, defying their host, 
and proposing that the question of subjection of the 
one nation to the other should be decided by single 
combat with himself. Saul on his part offered a great 
reward, and to give his daughter in marriage, to the 
man who should encounter and overcome Goliah. 

Whilst the armies were thus lying in sight of each 
other, David, whose three elder brothers were with 
Saul, was sent by his father to see after their welfare, 
and arrived at the Hebrew camp just when a demon- 
stration of battle was being made. At the same moment 
the Philistines' champion appeared, proclaiming the 
same challenge, whilst before him the affrighted He- 
brews cowered and withdrew. On witnessing these 
things, David expressed himself with much indigna- 
tion against the Philistine ; and though rebuked by 


his elder brother, he nevertheless persisted in breath- 
ing defiance against Goliah, until his words were at 
length reported to the king. Saul sent for David to 
his tent ; but his expectation failed when he saw be- 
fore him, not the brawny sinews and stern aspect of the 
veteran warrior, but a mere stripling of fair and ruddy 
countenance, with all the apparent inexperience and 
simplicity of youth. Saul endeavoured to dissuade him 
from all thoughts of coping with an enemy so greatly 
his superior both in strength and military skill ; but 
the sober confidence in God expressed by David evi- 
dently affected the king, who finally decided on per- 
mitting him to make the attempt. 

David declined the armour and weapons furnished 
him by Saul, and went forth to the encounter with 
nothing but his shepherd's staff and sling ; and Goliah 
no sooner perceived that he was coming seriously 
against him, than he wrathfully expressed his dis- 
dain of so mean an adversary, and cursed him in 
the name of his gods. But David slang a stone at 
him with such force and unerring aim, that it pene- 
trated his temple, and he fell on his facs to the earth : 
on which David ran, and drawing forth Goliah's own 
sword, smote off his head with it. The Philistines 
on seeing their champion fall immediately fled ; and 
the Hebrews, pursuing, destroyed them as far as to 
Gaza and Ekron. 

This exploit of David at once established his re- 
putation as a man of war, and procured him favor 
both with Saul and with the army ; but by no one 
was he so cordially and affectionately received as by 
Jonathan, the son of Saul, who stripping himself of 
his garments and implements of war, put them upon 
David as a pledge of his regard. A kindred spirit 


appeared to animate them both ; for each was brave, 
generous, modest, open-hearted, and confiding in 
God ; and an inviolable bond of friendship was now 
formed between them. Saul also appointed David to 
a post of honour and authority ; 1 but an incident, tri- 
fling in itself, presently caused an entire change in 
the king's sentiments towards him. As the army 
returned home after the victory, the women came out 
from the cities and villages to greet them; and as 
they played and danced before the chiefs, the burden 
of their song was — 

" Saul hath slain his thousands 
And David his ten-thousands." 

The words aroused the jealousy of Saul. He could 
not but perceive from them, that the real glory of the 
victory was in popular estimation assigned to David ; 
and though ignorant that he was secretly anointed to 
be king, yet he began to view him as a rival, and to 
watch his conduct with suspicion. But David be- 
haved himself in all matters with so much prudence 
and fidelity, that no occasion of complaint could be 
found against him. 

The malignant spirit of envy continued neverthe- 
less to rankle secretly in the bosom of Saul, being 
presently increased by an attack of his malady ; and 
he now began to entertain purposes of murder. 
David presented himself unsuspectingly before him, 
and with affectionate solicitude strove with his harp 
and song to soothe the spirit of Saul, as he had suc- 
cessfully done aforetime. But the result was differ- 
ent: Saul, in a paroxysm of jealousy, twice hurled 

1 It is probable that it was at this time that David was made armour- 
bearer to Saul j but there is considerable difficulty in the scripture 
narrative, arising from the manifest transposition of some of the facts. 


at David the javelin which he played with in his 
hand, 1 intending to transfix him to the wall; but 
David succeeded both times in avoiding it, and 
withdrew from the king's presence. 

Saul next devised a means of destroying David 
without appearing to be the murderer himself. He 
began to speak of giving him his eldest daughter in 
marriage, in conformity with his promise to the van- 
quisher of Goliah ; but he sent him previously against 
the enemy, hoping that his desire to distinguish him- 
self on such an occasion (to which he indeed exhorted 
him) would lead him to expose himself rashly. Da- 
vid, however, returned both safe and victorious, and 
acquired increased popularity with the nation ; but 
these things only rendered him so much the more an 
object of dislike and dread to Saul. 

The king after all gave his daughter to another 
man, and David appears to have been happily unaf- 
fected by the disappointment. But there was another 
member of Saul's family who was far from being 
indifferent in regard to David. This was Michal, his 
youngest daughter; and Saul was pleased when in- 
formed of the circumstance, because it again afforded 
him an opportunity of exposing his rival to danger. 
The modesty of David, and perhaps a sense of the re- 
cent perfidy of Saul, led him to shrink from the pro- 
posed honor, alleging his inability to advance a suit- 
able dowry; but the king, with base hypocrisy, caused 
it to be privately intimated to him, that he was him- 
self sincerely desirous of the union, and would be 
content, in regard to dowry, with a hundred foreskins 

l It was usual for military chieftains to carry the javelin on ordi- 
nary occasions, as the ensign of authority ; just as truncheons were 
carried by commanders in later times. 


of the Philistines. David on hearing this went forth 
and slew two hundred of the enemy ; on which the 
king, confounded at the result, without further hesi- 
tation gave Michal to him in marriage. 

The malevolence of Saul was not mitigated by the 
new relationship in which David now stood in re- 
gard to him ; and he began to speak against him to 
Jonathan and his confidential servants, urging them 
to assassinate him. Jonathan however remonstrated 
with his father, and so effectually, that Saul appeared 
to be all at once recalled to a better state of mind : 
he pledged himself by a solemn oath, that he would 
not kill David ; and Jonathan had the great satisfac- 
tion of seeing him apparently reconciled to his friend. 
But this state of amity was but of brief duration ; for 
a new war having broken out with the Philistines, 
David took the command of the army against them, 
and once more returned triumphant; an event which, 
whilst it rejoiced the nation, only revived the envy 
and jealousy of Saul. The demoniacal phrenzy came 
again upon him ; he hurled another javelin at David, 
which the latter again avoided, and the weapon 
struck into the wall. David was now convinced, 
that there was no safety for him in the court of Saul ; 
he hastened home, and finding his house soon after 
beset with men, he escaped by his wife's assistance, 
and fled to Samuel ; who readily received him, and 
removed with him to Naioth, in the suburbs of Ramah, 
where there was a college of the prophets. 1 

Immediately that Saul was apprized of David's re- 
treat, he sent persons to apprehend him. But a mar- 
vellous scene ensued. The party arrived whilst the 

i There were afterwards similar schools in Bethel, Jericho, and 
Gilgal. ^2 Kings ii. 3, 5 j iv. 38.) 


company of prophets, with Samuel at their head, were 
prophesying ; when the Spirit of God came upon the 
messengers of Saul, who, instead of apprehending 
David, remained and joined in the prophesying. Saul 
being informed of the circumstance sent a second and 
a third company ; but the result proving the same in 
each instance, he at length went down himself, when 
the Spirit of God came once more upon him likewise, 
and stripping off his robes, 1 he remained with the 
prophets all that day and night under the same irre- 
sistible impulse. Again his hostile feeling appeared 
to be overcome ; but David, now grown cautious by 
experience, though he returned home, yet plainly 
stated his mistrust of Saul to his friend Jonathan ; 
with whom a plan was concerted to ascertain the real 
state of his father's mind toward David, before the 
latter should venture again into his presence. The 
experiment terminated by SauPs accusing Jonathan 
of blindness toward one who was his rival in the 
throne, and by hurling a javelin at his head; upon 
which Jonathan repaired to David and urged him 
now to flee, parting from him with many tears. 

David directed his steps for Gath in Philistia, 
taking however the city of Nob on his way, where 
dwelt Ahimelech the priest ; and by a feigned state- 
ment of the circumstances which brought him thither, 

i He is said to have prophesied naked on this occasion. But among 
the eastern nations, a man was called naked when divested of his 
outer garments. Thus Peter is said to have " girt his fisher's coat 
to him, for he was naked;'* — i.e. divested of this coat only. (John 
xxi. 7.) The Greeks called soldiers naked or bare, when they fought 
without corslets, shields, greaves, or helmets. Thus Xenophon speaks 
of Cyrus appearing with his head bare, when he was without armour 
on it only, and had on the usual tiara or cap. See the Kvpov Avafiaais 
of Xenophon, lib. i. cap. 8, and the notes of Spelman thereon, and on 
Arrian, No. 119- l 


obtained from AhimeJech a supply of food and a 
sword, the same which had belonged to Goliah, and 
which was laid up in this city. Though Ahimelech 
was no way to blame in this affair, it nevertheless 
brought upon him swift destruction : for Saul, being 
informed of it by Doeg, an Edomite, who happened 
to be at Nob at the time, ordered Ahimelech and his 
family and all the priests of Nob to be brought before 
him and put to death. The servants of Saul indeed 
hesitated to stretch forth their hands against a priest; 
but Doeg had no such scruples, and fell upon them : 
not satisfied with which, Saul sent also to Nob and 
destroyed all the inhabitants thereof ; excepting Abi- 
athar, the son of Ahimelech, who contrived to escape. 
This act brought Saul into great odium with the na- 
tion, and he was now feared and hated as a tyrant. 

David finding himself viewed with suspicion by 
the king of Gath, returned into Judah to the cave of 
Adullam, whither there resorted to him various mal- 
contents, among whom was Abiathar, who brought 
with him an ephod ; also the kindred of David, who, 
observing that Saul's anger had extended to the rela- 
tives of those who had succoured David at Nob, reason- 
ably feared for themselves ; and many came also who 
were prompted by attachment to David. By these 
means he found himself at the head of a band of 400 
men. But though he was thus become formidable, he 
was far from entertaining any design against Saul ; 
whom he regarded, though his enemy, as the anointed 
one of God, the type of the Messiah, bearing the seal 
of Jehovah's authority. He kept this band of war- 
riors therefore solely for protection ; and was content 
to wait patiently until God should fulfil his promise 
in regard to the kingdom. 


In the meanwhile he performed an important ser- 
vice for his country, by rescuing Keilah from the 
Philistines ; after which, relying on the gratitude of 
the inhabitants, he quartered his little army in that 
city. Saul was only watching for his opportunity ; 
and concluding that he had him now pent up, im- 
mediately hastened with his forces to besiege him. 
David however, being in possession of the ephod, 
consulted God in all his movements and measures of 
importance; and being therefore divinely warned 
that the inhabitants of Keilah would betray him, he 
made good his retreat before Saul had invested the 
town, and returned to his previous hiding-place. 

Saul continued his attempts to apprehend David, 
who was frequently obliged to change his place of 
refuge, and often narrowly escaped. At length he 
fled to the wilderness of Engedi, where a remarkable 
circumstance occurred. Saul, while hunting him out, 
turned aside to rest himself in the very cave, in the 
interior recesses of which David and his men were 
concealed. The opportunity appeared inviting ; and 
the followers of David urged, that it was manifestly 
of God, who had thus brought his adversary into his 
power in order that he might destroy him. But 
David rather concluded that the occasion was in- 
tended to put to the proof his professed reverence 
for God's anointed one ; and therefore restraining 
his men, he contented himself with cutting off the 
skirt of the cloak cast over the feet of Saul, and re- 
tiring. On Saul's awaking and going forth, David 
and his men immediately followed, and having 
shewed him how completely God had placed him in 
his power, of which the severed garment was con- 
vincing proof, he firmly remonstrated with him for 


allowing evil persons to prejudice his mind with the 
apprehension that he had designs against his life. 
The king stood amazed, and once more was over- 
powered by a better feeling. He wept aloud, acknow- 
ledged the righteousness of David, again vowed that 
he would not molest him, and returned home. But it 
was only to afford another evidence of his own per- 
fidy and malice ; and to David another opportunity 
of displaying his magnanimity. 

The occasion was similar to the former. The in- 
habitants of Ziph informed Saul that David was in a 
fresh hiding-place in their neighbourhood. The king 
could not resist the temptation, but went down im- 
mediately with 3000 chosen troops. David how- 
ever by his superior knowledge of the country was 
aware of all Saul's movements, and penetrating at 
night, accompanied only by Abishai, to the spot 
where he was reposing surrounded by his follow- 
ers, he carried away the king's cruse of water and 
spear. Abishai again entreated to be allowed to 
smite Saul; but David again restrained him, and 
making round to the top of an adjoining precipice, 
he shouted till he at length aroused the king and his 
men from their profound slumber; when, holding 
forth the trophies he had taken, he again reproached 
the king for his injustice. Saul on this occasion ac- 
knowledged his sin, publicly expressed his conviction 
that David would be king, and blessing him in the 
name of the Lord finally departed. 

David however was now too well acquainted with 
the fickleness of Saul to consider himself safe any- 
where in his dominions, and once more therefore 
sought an asylum at Gath. He was now in different 
circumstances from when he first fled thither, being 


followed by 600 experienced and trust}' warriors, and 
notoriously hateful to Saul. Achish the king of Gath 
therefore received him as a friend and ally against a 
common enemy, and gave him the town of Ziklag for 
his residence, which ever after appertained to the 
kings of Judah. But David must have been involved 
here in considerable embarrassment at times ; for he 
was obliged to indulge his troops (who daily in- 
creased in number) with marauding incursions upon 
the enemies of Israel ; and on the other hand to con- 
ceal the real object of his expeditions from Achish by 
falsehoods. Duplicity of this description was proba- 
bly esteemed consistent in that age with the lawful 
stratagems of war,; but the sentiments and opinions, 
which happen at any time to prevail among mankind, 
do not really make a crooked thing straight in the 
sight of God. 

Preparations were at length made by the Philis- 
tines for another formidable war against Israel ; and 
Achish, concluding that he had in David a valuable 
confederate, now summoned him in reality to fight 
against his countrymen and Saul. The answer of 
David was ambiguous, — " Surely thou shalt know 
what thy servant can do : " and it is impossible to 
say what would have been the result, had God left 
him in this dilemma to himself. Either he must 
have turned his hand against Israel, to the great 
wounding of his conscience, and the hurt of his 
soul ; or, with equal baseness toward his benefac- 
tor, he must have deserted Achish. The Lord how- 
ever mercifully extricated David from the difficulty 
of his situation, by raising up a jealousy of him 
among the princes of the Philistines, who would not 
allow him to take part in the impending contest. 


Saul had a melancholy foreboding of the issue of 
the battle ; and his last act was one of singular incon- 
sistency. He had been so far zealous for God, that he 
had taken pains to root out wizards and witches from 
the land, and those that had familiar spirits ; but be- 
cause he could obtain no answer from God by any of 
the usual modes of communication, and Samuel was 
now deceased, he repaired privily to Endor, to a wo- 
man there reputed to have a familiar spirit, that by her 
means he might learn, if possible, whether the battle 
would be propitious. The woman, at Saul's request, 
endeavoured by her incantations to bring up the 
spirit of Samuel ; and was herself apparently asto- 
nished by the actual appearance of the prophet. By 
him Saul was assured that the battle would prove 
disastrous both to himself and sons and to the nation; 
and that the punishment, long deferred but not for- 
gotten, was about to fall upon him. The king swooned 
at the intelligence, and it was with difficulty that his 
attendants were enabled to restore him sufficiently 
for him to return before dawn. 1 This impolitic and 
unlawful step brought with it its own punishment ; 
for the disheartening effects of it upon Saul spread 
through the army, insomuch that all lacked con- 
fidence to face the enemy. The people therefore fled 

1 Much has been written as to the real nature of the apparition of 
Samuel. It is not probable that the spirits of departed saints should 
be subject in any measure to the power of unclean spirits - 3 and the 
woman (as already noticed) was seemingly herself affrighted at the 
appearance of Samuel. At the same time it is evident from the sacred 
text, that she professed to bring- up the spirits of departed persons, 
and actually proceeded to practise her usual incantations. Mr. Laine, 
in his recent work upon the manners and customs of the modern 
Egyptians, gives some striking- instances of a black art of this kind 
practised in that country ; to one of which instances Mr. Salt, recently 
the British consul, was a witness. (See the note also concerning- the 
sorcerers, wizards, &c. of Israel, in page 123.) 


and fell before the Philistines. Among the slain 
were three of the sons of Saul, including the gene- 
rous and valiant Jonathan. Saul also, being wounded 
by an arrow, called to his armour-bearer to make an 
end of him ; but he 7 being deterred by reverence for 
the rank and office of his master, the king threw him- 
self upon his own sword and perished by suicide ; 
his example being immediately followed by his de- 
voted attendant. 

Thus terminated the life and reign of Saul, the 
first king of Israel ; not only without having given to 
the nation that superiority over their enemies, which 
they desired when they demanded a king, but leaving 
the affairs of the kingdom in greater jeopardy than 
he found them. His character contained in it an 
admixture of opposite vices. On the one hand a 
wilfulness of spirit, which led him to disregard all 
considerations both human and divine, when bent 
upon gratifying his own desires; on the other hand, 
when no particular private interest or passion inter- 
fered, a disposition to make unprincipled concessions 
to the popular humour. His wilfulness has been 
sufficiently manifest in his usurpation of the sacred 
functions of the priesthood ; the infamous massacre 
of the priests and inhabitants of Nob ; his untiring 
and unrighteous persecution of David ; and his 
finally seeking counsel of evil spirits. His dispo- 
sition to pander at other times to the passions of 
the multitude was betrayed by his conduct in the 
war with the Amalekites; but another instance of 
it has not been narrated. It will be remembered 
that the treaty, made with the ancient inhabitants 
of Gibeon by Joshua and the elders, was not popu- 
lar among the Hebrews in general. The Gibeonites 


still continued to be objects of dislike ; and to gra- 
tify the more bigotted of the people, Saul promoted a 
persecution of them, which proceeded almost to their 
extermination. The people were doubtless guilty in 
the matter, as well as the sovereign ; and they were 
punished in the succeeding reign by a grievous 
famine, which God sent upon the nation, declaredly 
on account of this unrighteous proceeding ; nor was 
it removed until the Gibeonites were appeased, by 
having surrendered up to them seven of the descend- 
ants of Saul, who were all put to death. 

DAVID, [a.m. 2950, a.a.c. 1056.] * The first in- 
telligence of the battle in which Saul fell was con- 
veyed to David by an Amalekite, who had been in 
the retinue of Saul, and near to him at his death. 
Finding himself left by the self-destruction both of 
the king and his armour-bearer without a witness, 
he took possession of the crown and bracelet of Saul, 
and hastening with them to David, feigned that he 
had found Saul wounded, and that at his own request 
he had despatched him. Producing the crown and 
bracelet, he looked to be received as a welcome mes- 
senger; but David immediately ordered him to be 
put to death, for having, on his own confession, dared 
to lift his hand against the Lord's Christ, or anointed. 
David and his followers then rent their clothes, in 
token of their grief, and fasted until evening before 
God. His unaffected sorrow, not only for his friend 
Jonathan, but even for his persecutor Saul, is seen 

1 The destruction of the temple having been fixed by concurrent 
sacred and profane testimony to the year before Christ 578; and as the 
period backward from thence to the beginning of the reign of David 
may be reckoned with accuracy ; I have here adopted the reckoning 
aac. or before Christ 1056, which I shall pursue from this point from 
the computation of W. F. Clinton, Esq. 


in the touching and beautiful elegy which he com- 
posed on the occasion. (2 Sam. i.) 

David betrayed no eagerness to secure the throne. 
He first asked counsel of God, and was directed tore- 
move to Hebron ; arrived at which city he was imme- 
diately anointed king over Judah. But the sovereignty 
of the remaining portion of Israel was not so readily 
conceded. For Abner, the captain-general of Saul's 
forces, a brave, talented, and experienced soldier, 
set up Ishbosheth, one of the surviving sons of Saul, 
and procured for him the allegiance of the remaining 
tribes. This state of things was patiently submitted 
to by David, who appeared to be without ambition of 
further dominion, and desirous to avoid a civil war. 
But after a few years had elapsed, part of the forces 
of Ishbosheth, commanded by Abner, and part of the 
troops of David, under Joab his nephew, met acci- 
dentally by the pool of Gibeon ; and military sports 
being proposed by Abner, a mock fight was unex- 
pectedly converted into a real one, which brought on 
a war between the two kings. Scarcely however had 
it commenced, when Ishbosheth offended Abner, who 
immediately took measures to bring over the whole 
kingdom to David ; and having come to Hebron, to 
make the necessary arrangements, he was there 
treacherously assassinated by Joab and Abishai his 
brother, in revenge of the death of their brother 
Asahel, whom Abner had reluctantly killed in self- 
defence in the skirmish at the pool of Gibeon. David 
warmly deprecated their deed, and complained aloud, 
that though he was anointed king, his hands were yet 
too weak to punish their headiness and presump- 
tion. He ordered a public funeral for Abner, which, 
he himself joined in as chief mourner, and after- 



wards he promoted the son of Abner to be ruler over 
the tribe of Benjamin. (1 Chron. xxxviL 22.) 

On the tidings of Abner's death being spread 
through the tribes, all became troubled, persuaded that 
the stay of their kingdom was now gone. Baanah and 
Rechab therefore, sons of Ishbosheth, eager to ingra- 
tiate themselves with David, — and not profiting by 
the fate of the Amalekite, who pretended to David 
that he had killed their grandfather Saul, — assassin- 
ated their father, and having cut off his head, has- 
tened with it during the night to Hebron, and pre- 
sented it to David. 1 The king was horrified at the 
wickedness and impiety of the act, and immediately 
ordered them for execution. Ishbosheth was in fact 
little better than a usurper, — a weak and feeble 
puppet in the hands of Abner, — and was justly made 
an example for assuming a dignity which he well 
knew belonged to another ; but the conduct of David 
was so much the more magnanimous toward the 
house of Saul ; and throughout he is distinguished 
by a remarkable freedom from those emotions of 
envy, jealousy, ambition and revenge, which too 
commonly are found, under similar temptations, as 
blots in the reputation of the princes of this world. 

[a.a.c. 1048.] The chief men of the eleven tribes now 
repaired with one heart to David ; and all obstacles 
being removed, he was made king over Israel, and 
found himself at once firmly fixed both in the throne 

1 It is said in the scriptures, that they went in to their father under 
pTetence of passing through the house to fetch wheat ; which illustrates 
in some measure the manners and customs of that age. It would ap- 
pear strange in the present day to find a granary of wheat so situate 
within the palace of a king, that it could not be reached without pass- 
ing through the principal part of the house; and still more so to find 
his own sons, when not on military duty, engaged as millers. 


and in the affections of the people. And there was 
great rejoicing and festivity in Israel on the occa- 
sion ; for they could not but perceive how manifestly 
the whole had been brought to pass by the hand of 
God, and not by the hand of David. 

Before the rejoicings were concluded, David con- 
certed measures for bringing up the ark of God ; but 
his arrangements for this object were necessarily de- 
ferred by an unexpected warfare. Large bodies of 
troops had accompanied their princes and leaders to 
Hebron on this occasion ; 1 upon which the Philis- 
tines, taking advantage of the unprotected state of 
the country, invaded it at several points. They found 
however to their cost that God was with David ; who 
twice defeated them, and acquired so great renown, 
that his fame spread into all the countries round 
about. Among others Hiram king of Tyre sent an 
embassy to him, and an alliance commenced at this 
time between the Hebrews and Tyrians, which proved 
of great commercial advantage to Israel. 

The inhabitants of Jebus next provoked an attack 
by a gratuitous and insulting defiance. Notwith- 
standing the remarkable manner in which this city 
had been previously designated to Israel, it had 
nevertheless defied from its position every attempt to 
take it. David however succeeded in capturing it ; 
and changing (or rather restoring) its name to Salem 

i The number of troops assembled on this occasion was 350,000 ; 
and the enumeration of the quota furnished by each 'tribe, found in 
1 Chron. xii. 23, shows how greatly wasted some of those tribes must 
have become, owing to their being in the vicinity of powerful ene- 
mies, or to their being reduced by protracted warfare. Judah only 
furnished 6800 men. Benjamin only 3000, and Simeon only 7100. 
While the tribes east of Jordan supplied 120,000, and Asher, Naphtali, 
and Zebulon, who were equally remote from the theatre of war, fur- 
nished 127,000. 

N 2 


and Jeru-salem, 1 made it his chief residence. Whilst 
besieging it, he heedlessly and indiscriminately pro- 
mised to the first man who should mount the parapet 
and smite the Jebusites, the dignity of captain- 
general. Joab accomplished the exploit, and thus 
David got more deeply embarassed with a man, 
whom he apparently both disliked and feared. 

He now proceeded to bring up the ark from Gibeah, 
whither it had been removed by Saul; for which 
ceremony he selected a chosen body of 30,000 men 
from all Israel, together with a large company of 
singers and performers on musical instruments. But 
the solemnity was interrupted by a circumstance 
which cast a gloom over all, and caused even David 
to forget for the moment the sovereignty and majesty 
of that God whom he was endeavouring to glorify. 
On the waggon which contained the ark arriving at 
a certain point, the oxen stumbled and jolted it, 
when a man named Uzzah, who was neither priest 
nor Levite, officiously putting forth his hand to steady 
the ark, was immediately struck dead, as a token of 
the Lord's displeasure. For not only ought the ark 
to have been under the sole care and direction of the 
priests and Levites ; but also to have been carried 
on their shoulders, according to the express appoint- 
ment of the Lord. 2 

1 We have seen (see note, p. 6,) that this place was called Salem, 
in the time of Melchizedec ; and that it was again so called, for bre- 
vity, in David's time, is evident from Psalm lxxvi. 2. The addition of 
Jireh (q. d. Jireh-Salcm) appears to have been given from Abraham 
having named Mount Moriah, which was in Zion, Jehovah- Jireh : for 
that Mount Moriah was the identical spot where the temple was af- 
terwards built is evident from 2 Chron. iii. ]. How the Canaanites, 
after Melchizedec's time, came to call it Jehus, which signifies 
" trodden under foot," does not appear ; beyond the fact that Jebus 
was a descendant of Canaan, and probably gave his own name to it. 

2 The circumstances which have reference to the priestly andprophe- 


David was so offended at the death of Uzzah, that 
he left the ark at the house of Obed-edom, a Levite, 
where it remained for three months ; until the blessing 
which came in consequence upon Uzzah's family was 
so manifest, as to lead David to determine again on 
bringing up the ark to Jerusalem, He took care 
however, on this occasion, to give strict orders that 
the Levites only should minister about it, and carry 
it on their shoulders ; (1 Chron. xv.) and he likewise 
directed the chiefs of the Levites to appoint suit- 
able persons from among themselves, both to sing 
the praises of God, and to perform upon the in- 
struments of music. As for David, he abandoned 
himself to a transport of joy, dancing and singing 
before the ark in a manner which evinced the lively 
interest he took in the proceeding; whilst all Israel 
accompanied the procession, with shoutings and 

tical offices are commonly confounded. The prophetical office was not 
limited, wherefore Joshua was forbidden to restrain Eldad and Medad 
from prophesying in the camp j and numerous persons were raised 
up, at various periods, out of the different tribes of Israel, who in like 
manner exercised the gift of prophecy. At the same time none could 
lawfully assume the prophetical office without a heavenly endowment 
for it j which consisted, in this early period of the church, in the 
Spirit of God coming upon them, either by the prophetical afflatus or 
otherwise, but in a manner that was easily distinguishable, and served 
therefore as a token from God. But the 'priestly office and the perfor- 
mance of the services of the tabernacle and temple, were strictly 
limited to the sons of Aaron and to the Levites, and was most jealously 
guarded from intrusion. Dathan and Abiram met therefore with con- 
dign punishment, when they conspired with Korah to invade it, al- 
leging the sanctity and privilege of the whole congregation. Korah 
indeed, though not of the family of Aaron, was nevertheless a Levite, 
and so far not guilty to the same extent as Dathan and Abiram ; and 
it is remarkable that a distinction was therefore made in their punish- 
ment, inasmuch as the children of the former were not cut off as were 
those of the latter. (Compare Numb. xvi. 27—33, and xxvi. 1 1 .) Saul 
also was deposed for offering sacrifice, not being a priest, though he 
had the gift of prophecy. Uzzah was struck dead for the like reason, 
when he presumed to touch the ark : and the men of Bethshemesh 
were smitten with pestilence for curiously inspecting it. 


great gladness. In this manner they brought the ark 
into the city, and deposited it in a magnificent pa- 
vilion prepared for its reception ; after which David 
offered numerous sacrifices and burnt-offerings, and 
having feasted the whole multitude, he blessed them 
in the name of the Lord and dismissed them. 

David now turned his attention to the internal 
affairs of the kingdom, and to those of religion in 
particular. To him the Hebrews were indebted for a 
more systematic arrangement of the services of public 
worship ; the classification of the priests and Levites 
into regular courses ; and the enrichment of the na- 
tional Psalmody. He regulated also the courts of 
law; and justice was diligently and uprightly ad- 
ministered by himself and sons. 

[a.a.c. 1043.] — Having settled these domestic mat- 
ters, he next again engaged in various conflicts with 
the enemies of Israel ; in all of which it pleased God 
to prosper his arms. He wrested from the Philistines 
a strong fortress on the borders, called Metheg-Ammah, 
or the bridle of bondage, (supposed to be the same as 
Gath : compare 2 Sam. viii. 1, and 1 Chron. xviii. 1,) 
by means of which they had kept the country in awe, 
and secured for themselves a safe point for aggression 
or retreat. He reduced the Moabites and Edomites 
to great distress, rendering the former tributary, and 
filling the cities and towns of Edom with Hebrew 
garrisons. He next attacked the Syrians of Zobah, 
which had become a considerable state, between the 
Jordan and Euphrates. He routed their king, taking 
from him 1000 chariots and 700 horses, besides which 
upwards of 20,000 infantry were slain or taken pri- 
soners. And upon the Syrians of Damascus advanc- 
ing to assist those of Zobah, he defeated them also 


with a further loss of 22,000 men ; after which they 
were unahle longer to resist the progress of his arms ; 
and placing his troops as garrisons in their cities, he 
reduced them to the condition of a tributary state. 
Some of the soldiers of the king of Zobah were 
equipped with shields of solid gold, which David de- 
posited as a trophy at Jerusalem. He took from them 
likewise an immense booty in brass ; but was careful 
to destroy the horses, which they were forbidden by 
the law to multiply, lest the Hebrews should be in- 
duced to put their trust in these things, instead of 
in the Lord Jehovah. 

[a.a.c. 1043 to 1039.]— The Syrians however pre- 
sently attempted to throw off the yoke ; the occasion 
of which attempt was as follows. The king of the 
Ammonites died, and David, having received kind- 
ness from him in the days of his adversity, sent a 
message of condolence to Hanun his son. But the 
nobles of Ammon, mistrustful of the object of the 
ambassadors, induced the young prince to shave off 
half the beards of the deputies, and cut off the skirts 
of their robes, (the greatest indignities he could have 
offered,) and to send them thus insulted back to David. 
Aware that he had committed himself, Hanun imme- 
diately sent messengers among the neighbouring 
Syrian tribes, and obtained from them an auxiliary 
force, amounting to 32,000 men, chiefly mounted in 
chariots. Joab was dispatched against this host of 
enemies, whom he met at Medeba. In the first in- 
stance he was surrounded by the multitude, and in 
great danger of being overwhelmed ; but drawing out 
the choice of his troops, and committing the remain- 
der to the care of bis brother Abishai, he fell with 
such vehemence on the Syrians that they gave way 


and were routed; on seeing which, the Ammonites 
also fled, and betook themselves to their cities. 

The king of Zobah was nevertheless in a condition 
to send another and more numerous army into the 
field; hearing of which, David likewise assembled 
all the disposable forces of Israel, and falling upon 
the Syrians at Helam, he defeated them in a pitched 
battle, destroying 47,000 men. Shobach, their gene- 
ral, was among the slain, and 7000 chariots and nu- 
merous horses were captured. The princes subject 
to the king of Zobah were now glad to obtain terms 
of peace ; and the Ammonites being thus deprived of 
their allies, David left Joab to besiege Rabbah, their 
capital ; and when it was on the point of surrender, 
went down in person and completed the capture him- 
self. He terribly avenged on this occasion the insult 
offered to his ambassadors ; putting some of the in- 
habitants to death by saws and axes and harrows, 
and making others of them pass through the brick 
kiln, in the same manner that they dealt with their 
own children when they sacrificed them to their gods. 
Their punishment is an awful type of that dreadful 
retribution which the true David will hereafter take 
on those, who have insulted or despised his ambassa- 
dors of peace. 1 

The glory of David had now attained its zenith ; when 
just as he was disposed to say in his heart, "Lord 
by thy favour thou hast made my mountain to stand 
strong," (Psalm xxx. 7,) he became involved in do- 
mestic troubles and rebellions, some of which shook 

1 Some endeavour to give another sense to the Hebrew, and to 
make it appear that David only reduced the Ammonites to slavery 
Such a reading however is forced, and supported by none of the 
ancient versions. 


his kingdom to its centre. The declared cause of 
this chastisement from God was sin, of an aggravated 
character, committed by David. For, whilst Joab was 
with the army before Rabbah, David was guilty of 
adultery with Bathsheba, the wife of Uriah, an Hit- 
tite, who is named among the thirty worthies of Da- 
vid's army. (1 Chron. xi. 40.) And as one transgres- 
sion commonly leads to another, so David, fearing a 
discovery of his guilt, and being foiled in an attempt 
to impose on Uriah by stratagem, wrote privately to 
Joab, directing him to employ Uriah on some dan- 
gerous service in the siege, and to leave him unsup- 
ported. Joab proved but too obsequious, and the 
arrows of the enemy too unerring; and thus was 
treacherously sacrificed one of the most valiant and 
devoted of the early followers of David. 

No sooner were the days of mourning over, than 
David married Bathsheba, who bore him a son. 1 But 
though he had now accomplished his guilty purpose, 
so far as to prevent the confusion of discovery on the 
part of Uriah, he could not elude the observation and 
just indignation of Jehovah. The prophet Nathan 
was commissioned to announce to him from the Lord, 
that the child which was the fruit of this guilty inti- 
macy should be smitten with death ; that his kingdom 
should be harassed, during the remainder of his 
reign, by civil warfare, and by troubles in his own 

l David had various wives at this time. 1 . Michal, Saul's daugh- 
ter, whom the Lord smote with barrenness, for having despised and 
reproved David, when he danced before the ark. 2. Abigail, a widow 
of great beauty and address, whom he married under romantic cir- 
cumstances when he was in the wilderness. 3. Ahinoam, a female of 
Jezreel, of whom was born Amnon, David's eldest son. 4. Maacah, 
daughter of Talmai, king of Geshur, of whom he had Absalom. 
5. Haggitk, who was the mother of Adonijah. 6. Abital, of whom 
Shephatiah. 7. Egldh, of whom Ithream. 


family ; in the course of which his own wives should 
be violated : with this difference only, — that whereas 
David's offence against Uriah was committed secretly, 
the retributive outrage against himself should be per- 
petrated openly. 

It is worthy of remark, that the principal reason 
assigned in the divine message for this punishment 
was, that David, by his evil conduct, had given great 
occasion to the Lord's enemies to blaspheme. This 
betrays that David had not been so concealed from 
the observation of the world, as he had flattered him- 
self. His offence was already bruited; and whilst 
the pious followers of God would be distressed and 
grieving at his fall, " the enemies of the Lord" (of 
whom there were always too many, even in Israel,) 
were triumphing. The extent of the mischief of 
such inconsistency in professors of religion is not 
to be calculated : down to the present day the ef- 
fect of David's sin has not ceased, but the ungodly 
still make it an occasion of profane blasphemy, and 
of speaking reproachfully against the children of God. 
The Lord however was merciful towards his servant. 
Though it was necessary that he should be thus chas- 
tised, the guilt of his sin was put away ; whilst the 
temporal punishment which he endured was blessed 
to the greater humbling and purifying of his soul. 
The scourge quickly followed. The child just born 
to him sickened and died. A flagrant instance of 
depravity soon after occurred in his family: the in- 
cestuous ravishment of his daughter Tamar by her 
half-brother Amnon, David's eldest son. David 
would apparently have passed over this outrage; but 
not so the Lord. Absalom, the own brother of Tamar, 
meditated revenge ; and about two years afterwards 


he invited his brethren and Amnon to a banquet ; 
when, at a given signal, his servants rushed upon the 
offender- and slew him. The brethren of Absalom 
fled in terror; whilst he betook himself to Talmai, 
king of Geshur, his mother's father, who readily af- 
forded him a refuge. Thus, in addition to the violation 
of his daughter, David was bereaved of his son Am- 
non, and another son was in voluntary exile. 

[a.a.c. 1036.] — In the meanwhile God gave him a 
second son by Bathsheba, whom he named Solomon 
and Jedidiah, i. e. a recompense, and beloved of the 
Lord; for God graciously regarded him, and he be- 
came David's successor to the throne. 

At the end of three years, by an ingenious device, 
Joab, who was the intimate friend of Absalom, ob- 
tained permission from David (already well in- 
clined to it) to fetch him home from Geshur : but this 
step only proved to his further confusion and distress. 
The dissensions in David's family had given rise to 
various parties and factions among their respective 
friends, whereby the fountains of justice in the empire 
flowed less purely ; whilst the recent conduct of the 
king himself, in the matter of Uriah, was calculated 
to diminish the good opinion of him previously en- 
tertained. Presuming therefore on the dissatisfac- 
tion expressed in various quarters, Absalom deter- 
mined on aspirang to the sovereignty, and immedi- 
ately set himself to court popularity. For this enter- 
prise he was in some respects well fitted by nature. 
To great personal beauty he added a bland and en- 
gaging address, and he was acquainted with those 
various arts, by means of which the wily demagogue 
knows how to cajole the judgment and affections of 
the multitude. He indirectly insinuated, rather than 


openly alleged, that neglect prevailed in the admin- 
istration of justice. He frequented the public forum 
or gate, where causes were tried ; and calling to him 
each party privately, learned from the suitors them- 
selves the facts and circumstances of their cases ; 
having done which he intimated, that he considered 
their cause good ; but lamented that no person was 
appointed to try it, in terms which left it to be 
inferred, that, were he king, justice should be ad- 
ministered both more expeditiously and better. He 
likewise affected great pomp, moving about in ordi- 
nary with a retinue of chariots and horses and fifty 
running footmen ; notwithstanding which, when any 
approached to do him obeisance, he prevented them, 
by catching them by the hand and kissing them. 
Thus he " crouched and humbled himself that the 
poor might fall by his strong ones ;" and succeeded 
in beguiling the hearts of Israel. 

[a.a.c. 1028.] — At length when his plans were ma- 
tured, he repaired to Hebron, under pretence of 
keeping a vow which he had made at Geshur; but 
he secretly dispatched emissaries throughout the land 
to apprise those friendly to him of his intended re- 
volt, and that at a given signal they were to rise 
simultaneously and declare him king. The plot was 
managed with consummate dexterity and address. 
When Absalom quitted Jerusalem he sent special 
invitations to two hundred persons of character and 
influence, who were not privy to his designs; but 
who complied with his invitations in the simplicity 
of their hearts, and by their undesigned countenance 
made the defection appear more extensive than it 
really was, thus determining to his side that nu- 
merous class, who only wait on such occasions to see 


which party is the more likely to prevail. At the same 
time the conspiracy was really extensive, and in- 
cluded in it many persons of authority and rank. 

Alarmed at the news of this rebellion, and desirous 
also to save Jerusalem from assault, David quitted 
the city with his adherents, and took the way toward 
the wilderness. Barefooted and having their heads 
covered, they crossed the brook Kedron, and ascended 
the Mount of Olives, weeping as tHey went ; the whole 
country through which they passed joining in the 
lamentation. On arriving at the summit of the 
Mount, David offered solemn worship to Jehovah ; 
after which he sent back the ark of God, together with 
Zadok and Abiathar, the chief priests, that they might 
transmit to him secret intelligence from time to time 
of the progress of affairs. He likewise directed his 
friend and counsellor Hushai to return and join the 
party of Absalom, in order to counteract, if practica- 
ble, the advice of Ahitophel, a man possessed of so 
much natural penetration and sagacity, that his opi- 
nions came to be regarded as oracular. He had been 
chief counsellor to David ; but had revolted to Ab- 
salom, being moved perhaps by personal resentment ; 
for he was the grandfather of Bathsheba, and father- 
in-law therefore to the injured Uriah. 

David had left his palace in charge of ten concu- 
bines, concluding that Absalom would respect them ; 
but the first counsel of Ahitophel was, that he should 
defile them, that thereby Israel might see that he was 
compromised with his father, beyond all hope of re- 
conciliation, and so be prevented from wavering. The 
advice was complied with by Absalom, who, in order 
to make the matter more notorious, caused a pavilion 
to be erected on the roof of the palace, and resorted 


to it with the concubines, " in the face of the sun," 
thus fulfilling part of Nathan's prophecy. 

A council was immediately after called to consider 
the propriety of giving battle to David. Ahitophel 
offered, that if Absalom would place a force of 12,000 
men at his disposal, he would that same night fall 
upon David, whose men, now wearied and discou- 
raged, would, he concluded, be surprised by the sud- 
denness of the attack, and take to flight; that he 
should then easily smite the king ; and by this one 
blow put an end to the conflict. The advice was 
generally applauded ; but Hushai having now joined 
Absalom, and being called upon for his opinion, de- 
precated the attempt as rash against such an adver- 
sary ; and advised that Absalom should rather wait, 
and summon all Israel to his aid, and then attack 
David with a force which must necessarily over- 
whelm him. This counsel was still more approved 
by Absalom and his adherents, who were judicially 
infatuated of the Lord ; whilst Ahitophel, mortified 
at the result, went home and hanged himself. 

The particulars of this council were secretly con- 
veyed to David by the sons of Zadoc and Abiathar ; 
on receiving which intelligence he broke up in the 
same instant from the position he had taken on the 
Jordan, and crossing the river proceeded to Maha- 
naim, a strongly-fortified city. Here he organized 
his forces and strengthened himself by fresh arrivals. 

In the meanwhile Absalom, having collected a 
large army, advanced to Mahanaim, and offered bat- 
tle. The friends of David would not allow him to 
take the field in person, prudently considering, that, 
if he fell, their entire cause was lost. He therefore 
drew up his army in three divisions, which he placed 


under the command of Joab, Abisbai, and Ittai, (a 
Philistine of Gath, but an attached follower of Da- 
vid,) and sent them forth to the encounter, but with 
a special charge to spare the life of Absalom. The 
position of the latter was embarrassed by an intricate 
and extensive wood, which deprived him of the ad- 
vantage of his superior numbers ; the consequence of 
which was that his army was easily overthrown. 
Twenty thousand men were slaughtered in the passes 
of the thicket by which they fled, which had become 
familiar to the troops of David. Absalom himself 
endeavoured to escape by the same route ; but his 
long and flowing hair, which had been his pride, now 
proved the means of his destruction; for becoming 
entangled by it in the boughs of a tree, his mule 
passed from under him, and left him suspended by 
the head. On being informed of this circumstance, 
Joab hastened to the spot, and, notwithstanding the 
king's commandment, slew Absalom, and casting the 
body into a pit, caused a large quantity of stones to 
be thrown upon it. The rest of the army of Absalom 
was then permitted to escape. 

David was speedily informed of the successful issue 
of the contest; but the news of Absalom's fate threw 
him nevertheless into a paroxysm of grief, and he 
retired to his house weeping and passionately calling 
upon his name. This unseasonable demonstration 
had nearly proved of serious consequence. For the 
soldiers, not meeting with the usual reception after a 
victory, stole away to their quarters, as if vanquished, 
and a spirit of defection was beginning to spread ; 
when Joab went into the king, and roughly remon- 
strated with him on the impolicy of his conduct. This 
aroused David from his stupefaction ; he immediately 


went and sat in tbe gate for the purpose of receiving 
the soldiery ; and a good understanding was speedily 

The nation now found itself in a dilemma. They 
had plunged into rebellion against a monarch whom 
they still admired ; the battle had proved adverse to 
them; and they were satisfied that the exigency of 
their affairs required of them Jto take some immediate 
steps in order to conciliate the king : but they were 
without a leader, and no one seemed disposed to 
make the first overtures of submission. At this junc- 
ture David again acted in a manner, which cannot be 
considered otherwise than impolitic and unjustifiable. 
Desirous that the men of Judah, his own tribe, should 
take the lead, he privately despatched messengers to 
his friends Zadoc and Abiathar, directing them to 
endeavour and bring this matter about, and authoriz- 
ing them to promise Amasa, who had commanded the 
forces of Absalom, that he should be captain in the 
room of Joab. Joab had long been troublesome to 
the king ; who had probably learned likewise, that he 
had been the immediate cause of Absalom's death ; 
but it was nevertheless particularly ungracious to 
seize an opportunity of degrading him, when he had 
just received important services at his hands ; and it 
was especially dangerous in principle to promote a 
man who had so recently been engaged in rebellion 
against him. The effect however of these overtures 
were irresistible upon the men of Judah : they were 
influenced as with one heart, immediately invited the 
king to return, and marched forth to conduct him 
over the Jordan. 

[a.a.c. 1021, a.m. 2982.]— The satisfaction of the 
country at the return of David was not without alloy. 


The prominence given to the men of Judah in the affair 
excited the jealousy of the other tribes, and a war of 
bitter words and recrimination commenced between 
them, which ended in another rebellion. The imme- 
diate author of it was Sheba, a Benjamite of infa- 
mous character. This tribe appears to have been par- 
ticularly jealous of the elevation of David, probably 
arising from the fact that Saul, who was a Benjamite, 
had given all the chief appointments of the state to 
individuals of his own tribe ; so that they had a sel- 
fish interest in regretting and wishing to restore his 
dynasty. Sheba therefore readily persuaded the 
Benjamites that they were neglected by David, and 
finding that they listened to his murmurings, he 
openly raised the standard of revolt; and the other 
tribes, excepting Judah, with a surprising fickleness, 
took part with them. Amasa, the new captain-gene- 
ral, being too tardy in his movements, David sent 
forth the army under the care of Abishai, leaving 
Amasa to join them on the march; which he no 
sooner did than he was assassinated by Joab, who at 
the same time usurped the supreme command. He 
nevertheless pressed furiously after Sheba, and drove 
him from city to city ; till at Abel-beth-maachah, the 
inhabitants, in order to save themselves from being 
stormed and pillaged, cut off his head, and threw it 
over the wall to Joab. This put an end to the war ; 
and Joab returned victorious to Jerusalem: nor did 
David, however he might secretly resent his conduct, 
find himself strong enough to punish him. 

The famine which took place about this period, on 
account of the oppressive treatment of the Gibeonites 
in the reign of Saul, has been already noticed. It was 
immediately followed by a war with the Philistines, 


who, presuming upon the distracted state of Israel 
from civil discords, took the opportunity of again in- 
vading them ; but they were subdued, after having 
been vanquished in four different engagements. The 
chief incident worthy of recording in this war is 
the perilous condition in which David was placed ; 
who, now grown feeble through age, was overpowered 
in the first battle by Ishbi-benob, a man of enormous 
stature, who would have slain him, had not Abishai 
come to his rescue. After this the Hebrews would 
not suffer David to go forth to battle in person, lest, 
as they alleged, "the light of Israel should be 

[a.m. 2985. a.a.c. 1018.] — An event followed, which, 
though David was again in fault, is expressly stated to 
have been permitted as a punishment to Israel ; whose 
recent seditions and wanton revolts were indeed well 
calculated to provoke the anger of God. The imme- 
diate occasion of the wrath was a census of the peo- 
ple which David ordered, apparently to ascertain if 
God had fulfilled his promise to make them numerous 
as the stars for multitude. Joab again remonstrated, 
and his conduct on this occasion contrasted advan- 
tageously for himself with the king's perverseness : 
for David still persisted, and the work was com- 
menced; but, after it had been prosecuted for ten 
months, it was arrested by a pestilence, which in 
three days carried off 70,000 persons. The mortality 
in Jerusalem alone was prodigious ; and the destroy- 
ing angel, who was commissioned to effect it, made 
himself visibly manifest to David at the threshing 
floor of one Oman, or Araunah, a Jebusite. On be- 
holding this apparition, David, who was already 
clothed in sackcloth in token of his humiliation, fell 


on his face before God, as did the elders who were 
with him, confessing his own sins, and interceding 
for the people. God was entreated, and David was 
directed, through the prophet Gad, to erect an altar 
in the threshing floor of Araunah, the spot over which 
he had seen the angel, and there to offer sacrifice ; 
and God visibly accepted the sacrifice, by sending 
down fire from heaven which consumed it, and the 
plague was stayed. David afterwards directed that 
the result of this census should not be recorded in the 
chronicles of the kingdom ; but we are nevertheless 
informed, that the number who actually bore arms 
amounted to no less than 1,300,000, of which the 
large proportion of 500,000 were Jews. This was 
exclusive of the two tribes of Levi and Benjamin, of 
the aged males and those under twenty years of age, 
and of course of the females of all ages. 

[a.a.c. 1019 to 1016.]— A period of tranquillity fol- 
lowed, during which David was employed in further 
regulating the internal affairs of the kingdom, and in 
making preparations for the erection of a magnificent 
temple for divine worship. Every thing appeared to 
promise peace ; when suddenly a new rebellion burst 
forth in his own family. Adonijah, the brother of 
Absalom, conspired to set aside the succession to the 
throne, which had been appointed of God to Solo- 
mon, the son of Bathsheba, who was yet but a youth. 
Presuming upon the great age and bodily weakness 
of his father, he prepared him horses, chariots, and 
running footmen, and at once affected all the pomp 
of royalty. Adonijah was but little inferior to Absa- 
lom in personal attractiveness; and the conspiracy 
soon became formidable from the parties drawn into 
it. Joab was a principal conspirator on this occa- 
o 2 


sion, (probably from resentment at the coldness of 
David towards him, and from having some apprehen- 
sion how it might fare with him under Solomon,) and 
even Abiathar was numbered with them, one of the 
two chief priests, who had hitherto been faithfully 
attached to the fortunes of the king. The blow in- 
deed was not aimed at David personally : he was 
not only permitted to live, but was surrounded by the 
usual state, and received the apparent homage of the 
conspirators ; but by their artifices he was kept in 
ignorance of what was really transpiring; whilst the 
usurper so carried matters before the public, as to 
make it appear that with the consent of David he 
was appointed his successor in the throne, and thus 
he virtually established himself as regent. 

Nathan however, the prophet, concerted a plan 
with Bathsheba to communicate to the king what 
was going forward, and to ward off from herself and 
son the blow designed for them. David was greatly 
moved at the intelligence, but no time was to be lost, 
and he resolved therefore immediately to constitute 
Solomon king. To this end he sent for Nathan the 
prophet, Zadok the priest, who continued faithful, 
and Benaiah, an officer of merit and renown. 1 He 
directed them to place Solomon on his own mule, 
and having led him to Gihon, a fountain on the west 
of Jerusalem, there to anoint and proclaim him king, 
and then to return and actually instal him on the 
throne of David. 

The cause of Adonijah seems to have found ad- 

1 David in regulating the internal affairs of the kingdom, instituted 
a military order of merit or knighthood, which was divided into three 
classes, three persons only being in each of the two first classes, and 
the third consisting of thirty. Benaiah was in the second, and from 
1 Chron. xxvii. 5, appears to have been originally a priest. 


herents more among the aristocracy than with the 
multitude. He was at this time engaged in entertain- 
ing the royal family and chief nobles with a splendid 
banquet; but the populace followed with great joy 
in the train of Solomon, who was surrounded by the 
body guards l of David, and gave way to unbounded 
demonstrations of joy. Many of the officers, also, and 
servants of David, hastened to the palace to congra- 
tulate him, and to testify their satisfaction. 

The tumult occasioned by these rejoicings was 
heard at the banqueting-table of Adonijah, and 
having ascertained the cause, the guests, seized with 
fear, instantly arose and dispersed, leaving Adonijah 
entirely deserted ; and thus did this seemingly for- 
midable conspiracy melt away without a blow ! Ado- 
nijah went and caught hold of the horns of the altar, 
hoping that the sanctuary would prove a refuge ; but 
Solomon peremptorily commanded him to be brought 
before him ; and upon Adonijah's praying for his life, 
the young king gave him to understand, that it would 
depend upon his ability to exculpate himself, and 
sternly ordered him to his house. 

David's next and last official act was to convene a 
general assembly of the princes, nobles, priests, Le- 
vites, and officers of all ranks, to whom he presented 
Solomon ; and informed them that it was by the spe- 
cial appointment of God that he succeeded him in 
the throne. He next mentioned the temple which 
he had projected to build, but which the Lord had 
prevented him in, and appointed that Solomon should 
accomplish ; he exhorted them to co-operate with 
him heartily in the work ; and concluded by dwelling 

i These were the faithful Cherethites and Pelethites, foreigners and 
chiefly Philistines. See the note chap. i. p. 10. 


earnestly on the importance to Solomon and the 
people, if they would prosper, that both he and 
they should diligently keep the commandments of 

The assembly now inaugurated Solomon the se- 
cond time with great pomp and ceremony ; and Zadok 
was with like solemnity installed as pontiff ; Abia- 
thar, who had sinned by revolting, being passed 
over. They likewise gave earnest of their readiness 
to aid Solomon in the magnificent work which he 
was about to undertake, by liberal offerings toward 
it; and an excellent spirit pervaded every heart. 
The city was filled with sacrifices, festivity and re- 
joicing : a thousand bullocks, a thousand rams, and 
a thousand lambs, with the due proportions of wine, 
oil, and fine flour were offered as an oblation to the 
Lord. David praised God and blessed the people, 
expressing his delight and gratitude at their free- 
will offerings : and the people worshipped the Lord, 
and did obeisance to Solomon, with apparent senti- 
ments of piety and veneration. The ceremony was 
finally concluded with a special prayer offered up by 
the king for Solomon and the nation. 

Solomon received from his royal parent a private 
admonition to walk in the ways of God, and he was 
likewise charged to take a suitable opportunity of 
punishing Shimei and Joab. The former had cursed 
and insulted David as Jbe retreated before Absalom ; 
the latter he still permitted to live, though now in 
evident displeasure, and removed from all command, 
Benaiah being appointed captain of the host. 1 

* Those who justly consider the reigns of David and Solomon, the 
anointed of God, as typical in numerous events and circumstances of 
the affairs and actions of the true Messiah, — the one representing 
Christ suffering and militant, and the other Christ glorified and tri- 


The last words of David, or rather his last prophe- 
tical words, declaredly spoken in and by the Holy 
Spirit, are recorded. Divesting them of the words 
supplied in the English translation, which though 
they make them to declare a truth of general appli- 
tion to rulers, deprive them of that particular refer- 
ence to the Messiah, which they were seemingly in- 
tended to convey, these words are as follow : — " The 
Just One shall be ruler over men, ruling in the fear of 
the Lord ; even as the light of the morning at sunrise, a 
morning without clouds, as the tender grass springs 
from the earth by clear shining after rain. Although 
my house is not so with God ; yet hath he made with 
me an everlasting covenant, ordered in all things and 
sure : for this is all my salvation and desire, although 
he make it not to grow. But the sons of Belial shall 
be all of them as thorns thrust away, because they 
cannot be taken with hands ; but the man that shall 
touch them must be fenced with iron and the staff of 

umphant,— will not fail to have observed the remarkable coincidence, 
in the history of David, of his crossing the brook Kedron in the hour 
of his affliction, and repairing to Mount Olivet, where he poured out 
his soul in prayer - 3 and of Ahitophel, like another Judas, having first 
taken sweet counsel with David, then turning traitor, and giving 
counsel to his enemies, and finally hanging himself. It is worthy of 
remark also, that the party opposed to God's anointed one (in other 
words, the Antichrist) appears under three different heads,— Absalom, 
Sheba, and Adonijah ; the last of which is destroyed without a battle 
by the appearance of the king (Solomon) in glory j before whom he 
suddenly melts away, and his power is dissipated, like a dream when 
one awaketh. And we have also seen David, the Christ militant, pre- 
paring for the glory of his kingdom, and to build up the Temple of 
God in the midst of all its distractions, and the warfare and rebellion 
of his people j— we have seen also a preparation made, in his last 
charge to Solomon, for the rooting out of evil-doers ; as well as pre- 
viously for the praise of them that do well 5 — and then the Christ 
coming forth in his glory, ruling in the midst of his enemies, and his 
people made willing in the day of his power, and prepared to build up 
the Tabernacle of David. 


a spear; and they shall be burned with fire from 
their place." i 

Thus terminated the reign of David; a man who 
notwithstanding his sins and defects was an eminent 
saint and servant of God. His simple faith and con- 
fidence in Jehovah, and his constantly seeking to 
him for counsel, form an admirable pattern of what 
a ruler ought to be ; whilst his deep repentance and 
humility after his transgression, as evinced by the 
psalms he has left, shew that sin was in the main 
abhorred by him, and that his afflictions were sancti- 
fied. God has, in David's case, strikingly shewn, 
that he is concerned to chasten even his dearest chil- 
dren when they transgress : for after his sin, he was 
to the end of his reign exercised by serious afflictions 
and troubles; and devoid of that admirable prudence 
and judgment which characterized his previous ca- 
reer. But the Lord nevertheless shone in upon him 
at the last, and he departed full of days, riches, and 
honours, having subdued his enemies on every side, 
united all parties in the state, and witnessed a be- 
loved son established as his successor in the throne, 
and magnified by the Lord with such royal majesty 
as had never been seen before. He died in the seven- 
tieth year of his age, and the fortieth of his reign. 

SOLOMON.— [a.m. 2990, a.a.c. 1016.] The reign 

' Dr. Gill has shewn this to be the proper reading. The words evi- 
dently do not refer to the house of David, for he declares that his. 
house is not so with God. The consciousness of his sin, and of its 
evil effects, must have prevented such a conclusion. Nor could he 
speak them of Solomon ; for he avers, that God made it Wot yet to 
grow. The Just or Righteous One was a familiar title of the expected 
Messiah. Jeremiah seems expressly to refer to these last words of 
David, chap, xxxiii. 15 ; and see also Isa. liii. 11 5 Jer. xxiii. 6 • Acts 
iii. 14; vii. 52; xxii. 14. 


of Solomon forms the most glorious epoch, politically 
considered, in the history of the Hebrew nation. 
That strength and majesty which it pleased God to 
give to him, from the moment that his father caused 
him to be proclaimed king, was by no means dimin- 
ished after David's death ; but his kingdom was 
established all at once in a marvellous and unprece- 
dented manner, the hearts of his subjects being in- 
clined toward him with one accord, so that they vied 
with each other in dutiful homage. 

The first act of his reign was to summon all the 
princes, rulers, and officers of Israel to Gibeon, where 
the tabernacle and the brazen altar had been re- 
moved, and still remained ; and there he offered a 
thousand burnt-offerings. This act of solemn and 
public recognition of God was immediately answered 
by a divine vision, the Lord appearing to him at 
night, and inviting him to ask whatsoever he would. 
The request of Solomon, and the terms in which it 
was couched, so beautifully illustrate his character 
and state of mind at this period, that it must be given 
in his own words. " Thou hast shewed unto thy 
servant David, my father, great mercy, according as 
he walked before thee in truth, in righteousness, and 
in uprightness of heart with thee ; and thou hast kept 
for him this great kindness, that thou hast given him 
a son to sit on his throne as at this day. And now, O 
Lord my God, thou hast made thy servant king, in- 
stead of David my father, and T am but a little child : 
I know not how to go out or to come in : and thy 
servant is in the midst of thy people which thou hast 
chosen, a great people, that cannot be numbered nor 
counted for multitude. Give therefore thy servant 
an understanding heart to judge thy people, that I 


may discern between good and evil : for who is able 
to judge this thy so great a people." The request 
pleased the Lord, (to whom indeed he was indebted 
for the preparation of heart and answer of the tongue 
that led him to prefer it; ) and he endued him with 
a spirit of wisdom and understanding unparalleled 
in the history of mankind. And forasmuch as he 
did not ask riches, honour, and length of days, these 
things the Lord graciously added to the boon ; except 
that he made his duration of life contingent on his 
continuing to walk in the commandments of God. 
Solomon after this returned to Jerusalem, and there 
offered numerous sacrifices before the ark, and gave 
a magnificent banquet to all his servants. 

An opportunity immediately occurred of making 
manifest the wisdom which God had bestowed upon 
him. Two women came to him for justice. They 
were both of them mothers of young infants, and 
slept in the same chamber together, each with her 
own child. The one woman complained, that the 
other had overlaid her child during the night, and 
that on discovering the accident, she had arisen softly 
and taken the complainant's child from her, whilst 
she slept, and substituted her dead child in its place. 
The woman accused stoutly contradicted the charge, 
alleging that the living child was hers ; and there 
being no witness between them, it appeared impos- 
sible to come at the truth. Solomon however pro- 
posed, in order to satisfy the rival claimants, to have 
the surviving child cut in twain, and half to be given 
to each. The woman charged with the fraud readily 
consented to this proposal ; but the other imme- 
diately yielded her claim, and prayed that the child 
might be given entire to her adversary, and its life 


spared. Then said the king, " Give her the living 
child, and in no wise slay it : she is the mother 
thereof." And all Israel heard of this decision, and 
was penetrated with awe and admiration at the wis- 
dom of their king. 

The next acts of Solomon were calculated to in- 
crease this reverential fear of him. Adonijah, the 
usurper, appears not to have altogether abandoned 
his designs upon the throne, but to have conspired 
secretly with Joab and Abiathar, by what measures 
he might still accomplish his purpose. By an artful 
representation to Bathsheba, he prevailed on her to 
solicit of Solomon for him in marriage a young and 
beautiful virgin, named Abishag, who had been Da- 
vid's concubine and nurse in his last days ; insinuat- 
ing that the throne was his by right of primogeniture, 
and by the will of the people, however Solomon might 
allege that God had given it to him ; and the request 
of marriage with Abishag was put forward as a re- 
compense, by an obvious implication, for what he 
now affected to yield. Solomon immediately per- 
ceived the snare, and that if he granted this petition 
it would prejudice his just title to the throne; he 
therefore commissioned Benaiah instantly to put 
Adonijah to death. Alarmed at the promptitude of 
Solomon, and conscious of guilt, Joab fled to Gibeon 
to the tabernacle for refuge, and caught hold of the 
horns of the altar. But Solomon had him dragged 
thence and slain ; and thus, though the Lord had 
long borne with him, the several murders which he 
had committed in cold blood were at length visited 
on his hoary head. The life of Abiathar, on ac- 
count of his having borne the ark, and his former 
services to David, was spared ; but he was degraded 
from the priesthood and banished. 


At the same time Solomon sent for Shimei, and 
desired him to confine himself to Jerusalem ; warning 
him, that in the day that he should exceed his bounds 
he should be put to death. The fate of Shimei was 
thus for a while deferred ; but about three years af- 
terwards, having grown heedless and secure, he 
quitted Jerusalem and went to Gath, in pursuit of 
two runaway slaves ; on being informed of which 
the king likewise put him to death. 

[a.m. 2993, a.a.c. 1013.] And now having rooted 
out these evil doers from the city of the Lord ; and 
likewise promoted to situations of chief power and 
confidence the persons, or their descendants, who had 
been the most attached and faithful followers of his 
father, Solomon began to build the temple. 

It has already been stated that David purposed to 
erect such an edifice; but God forbad him, on the 
ground that he was a man of war, and his hands de- 
filed with blood ; promising, however, that his son 
should be permitted to perform it, who should be a 
man of peace. David was also permitted to pre- 
pare the materials for it; and God made him further 
promises respecting his family and posterity, couched 
in terms which show that they chiefly related to the 
Messiah. 1 The preparation made by David for this 
work affords some notion of the wealth of his people 
and himself at this period. From the public chest 

1 Grotius and the commentators of his school, conclude them to 
have been all fulfilled in Solomon. But the words " I will raise up 
thy seed after thee which shall be of thy sons, and I will establish his 
kingdom," (l Chron. xvii. n,) could not relate to Solomon, since he 
was David's son immediately, and not "of his sons." They refer 
therefore to a more remote branch of David's posterity j agreeably 
with which he praises God for having spoken of his house " for a 
great while to come." Moreover the throne of this seed was to be 
established for ever; whereas Solomon's was rent and divided in the 
next reign. 


and from the spoils of war, he laid by 108,000 tal- 
ents of gold, and 1,010,000 talents of silver ; from 
his own private resources he gave 3000 talents of 
gold, and 7000 of silver ; and the princes and rulers, 
cordially following his example, gave 5000 talents of 
gold and 10,000 of silver, with abundance of precious 
stones. 1 There were likewise accumulated large 
quantities of timber, iron, brass, marble, and other 
requisite materials. God gave to him a design also 
for the building, and for the instruments and vessels 
thereof, which David declares " that he made him 
understand in writing by his hand (or power) upon 
him." This was carefully delivered to Solomon ; to 
whom the Lord also designated the site on which it 
was to be erected, which was Mount Moriah, a part 
of Zion, the identical spot where stood the threshing 
floor of Oman the Jebusite ; and where, about a 
thousand years previous, Abraham had offered up 
Isaac, and called the place Jehovah- Jir eh. 

We are equally at a loss for the actual form of this 
structure, as of the tabernacle, ignorant as we are of 
the ground plan and elevation given to David. The 
principal aedis or nave, which constituted more pro- 
perly the temple, was 60 cubits in length, 20 in breadth, 
and 30 in height. From off this one third was se- 
parated for the oracle or holy of holies, which ex- 
tended all across the building, but was only two-thirds 
of the height, forming in itself a cube of 20 cubits. 
The interior of the walls and roof were lined with 
cedar, richly carved with cherubim, palms and flowers, 
and covered with gold. The furniture was much the 

* In 1 Chron. xxii. 14, it is only 100,000 talents of gold, instead of 
108,000 as in 2 Samuel ; the latter perhaps includes the 3000 and 5000 
from David himself and the nobles. Arbuthnot computes the gold 
at 534 millions sterling, and Prideaux the total at 800 millions ! 


same as in the tabernacle, consisting of the ark, 
niercj'-seat, table, vail and lamps; but within the 
holy place were likewise two cherubs made of olive- 
tree overlaid with gold, each ten cubits high, and 
measuring also ten cubits from tip to tip of their ex- 
panded wings, which touched each other and the 
walls at the same time, thus filling the whole width 
of the holy place. The building was more remark- 
able for its costliness than for its magnitude. In 
length, including the oracle, it could not have ex- 
ceeded 110 English feet, nor in breadth 37 feet; 
which is not larger than a moderate sized parish 
church. But in the splendour and preciousness of 
its materials it was unrivalled. The wails, the roof, 
the pillars, the doors, the ornaments, the very floor, 
were covered with gold, presenting to the eye one 
mass of the pure and precious metal ; whilst its exter- 
nal walls were of marble and other rare and costly 
stones. In front there was a porch, or rather tower, 
20 cubits long, 10 broad, and 120 cubits, or about 220 
English feet, in height. At each end-of this porch 
were two pillars of burnished brass, 35 cubits high, 
and four cubits in diameter, with capitals of five 
cubits each ; on the one of which was engraved the 
name Jachin, signifying He shall establish it, and on 
the other Boaz, or it is strength. 1 

1 It is not evident, from the description, whether these two remark- 
able pillars formed the two corners of a colonnade or portico, or stood 
alone, as was not unfrequently the case with ornamental entrances. 
Their height is also doubtful : for 1 Kings vii. has eighteen cubits, and 
2 Chron. iii. has thirty-five cubits, which has led some to conclude, 
that the latter describes the height or length of the two pillars toge- 
ther. But besides the improbability that they should be so described, 
the architectural proportion of thirty-five cubits in height to a dia- 
meter of four cubits is far more likely to be correct than eighteen cubits. 
The Corinthian column is ten times its diameter ; and the squattest 
forms of the Doric are not less in height than six times the diameter. 


But there was likewise a considerable quantity of 
other building ; consisting of numerous chambers for 
the accommodation of the priests on duty, and for 
the reception of the vessels, vestments, stores and 
treasures of the temple. These were built round 
about the temple, and from the mention of three tiers 
or stories of them, they were some of them apparently 
over the temple. There was a geometrical or winding 
staircase (probably constructed in the porch,) which 
led up to these chambers. There were also three 
spacious courts with walls of stone and gates of 
brass, and piazzas or cloisters of cedar round about. 
The furniture of these courts, as in those of the taber- 
nacle, were of brass, consisting of the altar for burnt- 
sacrifice, and a sea or reservoir of brass, of much 
larger dimensions than the previous one, being ten 
cubits in diameter and five cubits deep, and sup- 
ported by twelve oxen looking outward, three toward 
each point of the compass. There were likewise ten 
Javers of brass placed on pedestals of the like metal. 

Such was the temple of Solomon. The reasons 
assigned for preventing David from building it, the 
fact that the design for it was given by immediate 
inspiration, and many of the circumstances connected 
with the building itself of this edifice, shew that a 
typical meaning was undoubtedly attached to it.' 

1 Some of the circumstances shadowed forth by the tabernacle and 
temple appear obvious. The former was typical of the wilderness 
state of the church, when it was removed from station to station, 
and found at different times in different places— Jerusalem, Babylon, 
Antioch, Rome, &c— the candlestick being removed in one place and 
set up in another. But the temple, being constructed of more durable 
materials, and laid upon a foundation, sets forth the future glorious 
state of the church on earth, when stability shall be its characteristic. 
The reigns also of David and Solomon are characteristic of the church 
in its militant state and in its state of rest and peace. (See 1 Chron. 
xxii. 8—10.) 


[a.m. 3000. a.a.c. 1005.] This magnificent struc- 
ture was completed in the eleventh year of Solomon, 
having occupied seven years in building ; it was 
dedicated with extraordinary solemnity in the seventh 
month of the following year. All the princes and offi- 
cers of the empire were again convened, and brought 
up the ark in procession. Twenty-two thousand oxen 
and one hundred and twenty thousand sheep were of- 
fered on the occasion in sacrifices and oblations, be- 
sides a multitude of other offerings. One hundred and 
twenty priests clothed in white garments stood at 
the east end of the altar blowing trumpets ; a great 
company of Levites, similarly arrayed, stood with 
them, having musical instruments; and as all sounded 
together and praised the Lord, the house was filled 
with the Shechinah or bright cloud, the symbol of 
the divine presence, so that they were unable to 
stand and minister therein. An elevated platform 
of brass was erected for the king in the court of the 
temple, 1 from which he first addressed the people ; 
and then kneeling down, and spreading forth his 
hands toward heaven, he offered up a touching and 
comprehensive prayer for himself and the nation ; 
and concluded by standing up again and blessing 

1 The reader may here be apprized, that in the scriptures the whole 
of the enclosure, including the courts, is called the temple and house 
of the Lord ; but the principal building or nave, in which was the 
oracle, more especially bore the name of "the house," and "the 
sanctuary." All therefore that is related, as transacted in the temple 
by other than the priests, must necessarily be understood as taking 
place in " the courts of the Lord's house s " for none but the priests 
were allowed to enter into the temple itself, not even the king ; and 
the high priest alone into the inner sanctuary or oracle. Larcher ob- 
serves also of heathen temples, that the whole space enclosed in 
walls, forming courts, &c. was called to tepov, whilst the temple 
itself was called vaos ; and that this was rarely entered by any but 
the priests. 


the congregation, exhorting them likewise to walk 
with God. Soon as he had made an end, fire fell 
from heaven and consumed the sacrifices, and the 
glory of God again filled the house, so that the 
priests could not enter ; whilst the congregation, 
filled with awe and holy reverence, fell with their 
faces to the ground and worshipped. 

Besides the temple, Solomon erected numerous 
public buildings and cities, together with magazines 
and store-houses throughout the kingdom. During 
his reign also the commerce of the Israelites, which 
had previously been insignificant, grew to be very 
extensive and important. Hiram, the king of Tyre, 
who had been a steadfast friend of David, permitted 
his artificers to work with and instruct those of So- 
lomon in the building of the temple; and now, by 
virtue of a treaty, whereby Solomon undertook to 
supply Hiram with grain, &c, the latter furnished 
him with experienced seamen and pilots, who in- 
structed his subjects in the art of navigation. From 
Ophir and Tharshish or Tarshish, concerning the 
locality of which places the learned are much di- 
vided, were imported gold, silver, precious stones, 
ivory, spices, apes and peacocks; and from Egypt 
fine linen, yarn, carriages and horses. The quan- 
tity of gold alone, imported annually, amounted to 
666 talents, besides the precious stones and silver, 
the gain by other traffic, and the sums paid by tribu- 
tary powers. Silver became so plentiful that it was 
scarcely reckoned among the precious metals ; and 
the sumptuous character of every thing connected 
with the state of Solomon may be inferred from the 
circumstance, that all the vessels for eating and 
drinking throughout his palaces, and the targets 


and shields of his body guard, were of solid wrought 
gold. The commerce appears to have consisted prin- 
cipally of imports ; nothing at least is said of the 
exports ; though doubtless the commodities brought 
back were paid for in gold or articles of merchandise. 
The tribe of Judah had manufactories of fine linen 
among them; and the descendants of Shelah, also 
Jews, were eminent for this fabric and for their pot- 
teries. (1 Chron. xv. 21—23.) But the pursuits of the 
Israelites in general, when not engaged in the mili- 
tary service, were pastoral and agricultural. They 
had large possessions in flocks and herds, and the 
land was cultivated up to the very summits of the 
hills, which were formed into terraces, or flat ledges, 
encircling the eminences one above the other; evi- 
dent traces of which remain to the present day. 

Twelve princes of chief rank in the nation pro- 
vided in rotation for the household of Solomon, each 
for a month. The wealth and influence of some of 
the nobles may be estimated by the fact, that one of 
them alone (Geber, of Ramoth Gilead, a prince of 
Manasseh,) possessed all the towns of Jair, a former 
judge of Israel, and sixty large cities besides, in the 
region of Argob in Bashan. One day's provision for 
the king's household, at Jerusalem only, amounted 
to 30 measures of fine flour, and 60 of meal, 30 oxen, 
and 100 sheep, besides venison and poultry. 

Persons from all the earth are recorded to have re- 
sorted to Solomon to hear his wisdom ; who likewise 
brought him presents of gold and silver vessels, ar- 
mour, horses, mules, and spices. How great his re- 
putation had become is evident from Tacitus, who 
speaks of him under the name of the " illustrious" 
and " ancient Solymans," mentioned by Homer, 


though he treats the claims of the Jews to be of the 
same nation with contempt. (Hist. lib. v. c. 3.) The 
-visit of the queen of Sheba is well known. 

Thus far the kingdom of Solomon, and his own 
majesty and authority, were a remarkable type of the 
kingdom which is hereafter to be manifested by his 
archetype, the Messiah of the Jews. But types 
are not in any instance to be received as complete 
similitudes; they are commonly defective in some- 
thing ; and whatsoever therefore it might please God 
to exhibit to the church in this manner of the future 
order, subordination, wealth, peace and glory of the 
kingdom of the true Christ; yet must the whole be 
so placed before his children, as to warn them not to 
set their affections upon the riches and honors of 
this world; that these things are unable in them- 
selves to produce happiness : and that man cannot, 
in his present fallen condition, make a proper use of 
them. Accordingly we discover much in the conduct 
of Solomon that betrayed him to be a very fallible 
representative of the true Anointed One, and to give 
occasion for the spiritually-minded in those days to 
look forward to and long for the reign of the real 
Prince of Peace and King of Righteousness. Con- 
trary to the express command of God, he contracted 
marriage with various heathen princesses, as the 
daughters of the kings of Egypt, Moab, Ammon, 
Edom, Sidon, and others. In order to gratify these, 
he raised altars and high places to their national 
deities ; propably induced in the first instance by that 
specious sophistry which has imposed on thousands, 
who have committed the error of marrying persons 
holding heretical opinions, — viz. that it was proper to 
leave them to the unmolested enjoyment of their own 


religion. It appears indeed unreasonable not to make 
some arrangement of the kind under such circum- 
stances ; the almost necessity for which only serves 
to shew more clearly the sinfulness and inexpediency 
of entering into such alliances at all. The natural 
consequence of them, in Solomon's case, was, that he 
could not avoid beholding at times the idolatrous rites 
offered to heathen idols by his wives ; and thus was 
gradually seduced to offer incense in the high places, 1 

1 As the term " high places " frequently occurs in reference to the 
superstitions and idolatries into which the Hebrews fell, we may here 
inquire more particularly what they signify. In some instances, it is 
evident that eminences, and the summits of hills and rocks, and even 
the house tops, where sacrifice and incense were offered, are what is 
intended. (See Ezek. xxiv. 7. Zeph. i. 5. Jer. ii. 20, 23.) But it is 
likewise apparent, from other scriptures, that certain edifices are called 
" high places," which are said to be built up, and to be broken damn. 
(See 2 Kings xxiii. I3j xvii. 9; xxi. 3.) The truth appears to be, that 
the heathen thought the loftier eminences the more ethereal ; and the 
nearer they got to the material heavens, so much the more did they 
fancy that they approached the residence of their deities. Thus they 
not only offered incense upon the hills ; but erected altars, pillars, and 
towers on those hills. And in towns where there was no ready access 
to such eminences, they nevertheless burnt incense on the house tops, 
and erected high places in the streets for that special purpose, gene- 
rally at the head or end of the streets, (See Ezek. xvi. 24, 25, 31.) and 
also at the gates. (2 Kings xxiii. 8.) Altars erected to the true God 
were likewise called high places, when they were not in the place of 
God's special appointment, and also when in cities that were elevated ; 
such being generally chosen from the natural leaning this way, or 
from the fact of God's having revealed himself on Mount Moriah and 
Sinai. Thus the altar which Samuel built to the Lord in Ramah is 
called ."the high place." (1 Sam. vii. 17; ix. 12.) Gibeon is called 
also " the great high place," because the brazen altar was there ; 
(I Kings iii. 4.) and when the men of Kirjath Jearim fetched the ark 
from Bethshemesh, the apparent reason for their lodging it in the 
house of Abinadab is, that it was on a hill. ( 1 Sam. vii. 1 .) There is 
a much greater obscurity in regard to what are called groves in the 
sacred writings. The primary meaning of them is obviously a planta- 
tion of trees ; and in these also the heathen erected altars and images, 
(l Kings xv. 13.) But these are likewise said to be built, as well as 
planted, (1 Kings xiv. 23.) and to be set up; (2 Kings xvii. 10.) and in 
2 Kings xxiii. 6, a grove is said to be " brought out of the house of 
the Lord,"— that is, probably from its courts. (See the note also 
page 22.) 


and to bow down before Ashtaroth,Milcolm, Chemosh, 
and other deities. Equally contrary likewise to the 
laws by which he was bound to govern the kingdom 
was the excessive number of his wives and concu- 
bines ; and his introduction of horses and swift beasts 
for military as well as civil purposes. 

A prophet was now commissioned of God to de- 
nounce a woe against Solomon, which was to consist 
in the rending away of ten of the tribes in the days of 
his son ; which tribes, it was declared, should be given 
to Jeroboam the son of Nebat, chief of the house of 
Ephraim, an officer of great talent whom Solomon had 
promoted. After this the reign of peace was pretty 
well concluded ; for if a period of actual warfare did 
not terminate the days of Solomon, it was neverthe- 
less one in which the tranquillity of the country was 
greatly interrupted, and himself harassed. Hadad, 
an Edomite, who, during a war of extermination 
waged by David in Idumea, had been carried an in- 
fant into Egypt, there grew up with feelings of deadly 
animosity against Israel ; and having now returned 
to his own country, began to make predatory in- 
cursions into Solomon's dominions. Another foe, 
whom the Lord raised up against him, was Rezon, a 
Syrian chieftain, who had established himself in 
Damascus. During the whole period of Solomon's 
reign he had been hostile to Israel ; and having lat- 
terly obtained the sovereignty of all Syria, he was 
become formidable. (1 Kings xi. 25.) It was prob- 
ably against this adversary that Solomon took the 
field ; for we have the record of his having actually 
besieged Hamath-Zobah, and prevailed against it; 
which is the only instance related of his being 
himself engaged in warfare. But that which most 


harassed and annoyed him was the prophecy con- 
cerning Jeroboam. Blinded by jealousy of his rival, 
he now, like Saul in the case of his father David, 
sought to frustrate the purpose of God by the de- 
struction of his rival ; but Jeroboam, being aware of 
his intention, fled to the king of Egypt, who afforded 
him protection. 

It is probably the painful experience of Solomon, 
during the period of his declension, that is described 
by him in the book of Ecclesiastes. It bears internal 
evidence that he wrote it toward the conclusion of 
his reign; and it describes the devices of a heart, 
which having lost the peace and confidence in God, 
which arise from walking in the way of righteous- 
ness, endeavours to make up for it by the wretched 
substitutes afforded by the world. He tried the 
whole circle of pursuits and pleasures which capti- 
vate the natural man ; nor was any one ever placed 
in circumstances which would allow him more effec- 
tually to put them to the test. Power and wealth and 
grandeur he possessed to an unprecedented degree ; 
he indulged his taste for building and for public 
works ; he planted woods, groves, orchards and vine- 
yards ; he procured singers and minstrels in abun- 
dance ; he filled his harem with beautiful women ; he 
made trial of literature and the arts. But nothing 
could satisfy : their character is summed up in the 
one word, which he inscribed upon them — vanity : 
and the conclusion to which he was at length brought 
was, that there is nothing better than for a man to 
fear God and keep his commandments. (Eccles. xii. 
13.) It is gratifying however to the pious mind to 
observe, that the fall of Solomon was thus overruled 
for his correction and instruction in righteousness; so 


that he obtained an increase of wisdom and riches of 
the more excellent kind. 

One other incident marks him to have been but man, 
and his glory but as the flower of the field : he died! 
This event occurred in the fortieth year of his pros- 
perous reign ; and he was buried with great pomp in 
the city of David. 

The literary powers and the learning of Solomon 
must have been as extensive as his wisdom and 
riches. He was a great naturalist, and left behind 
him treatises on quadrupeds, birds, fishes and rep- 
tiles. He likewise wrote a comprehensive work on 
botany, in which he treated of all plants, from the 
stately cedar to the hyssop on the wall. Like his 
father also, he was an excellent poet, and composed 
no less than one thousand and five different songs ; 
but whether of a divine or merely profane character 
we know not; with the exception of the Canticles, or 
" Song of Songs/ 7 a work which not only affords a 
specimen of superior poetical talent, but must be 
viewed in the still more important character of a 
prophecy, as the Jews and the best commentators 
have always considered it. That it was an inspired 
production is evident from its having obtained a 
place in the canon of Hebrew scripture, and there 
received the sanction of our Lord. The Proverbs of 
Solomon is another work which has come down to 
us. They form an admirable treasury of maxims of 
piety, morality and prudence, and must be viewed 
in the same light of inspiration. Those which re- 
main are not the one third part of what he wrote : 
the rest, together with his poems and works on natu- 
ral history, are lost — we were about to write " unfor- 
tunately lost ; " but God has doubtless better con- 


suited for the higher interests of his church, by per- 
mitting them to disappear, than he would have done 
in preserving them : should they ever be needed, the 
same Providence that has hidden will reveal them. 

It has been too hastily concluded that the promises 
to Abraham of a territorial character were accom- 
plished to the full extent in Solomon's time; but cer- 
tainly this was not the case. Philistia was not pos- 
sessed in his days : he is only said to have reigned 
over all kings " from the river unto the land of the 
Philistines, and to the border of Egypt;" which mode 
of expression, if it excludes Egypt, must equally ex- 
clude Philistia. That there was peace with the Phi- 
listines, and that they might have brought presents, is 
all that can be said of them. We have seen likewise 
that the territories of the Sidonians and Tyrians, part 
of the grant to Abraham, were never in subjection to 
Solomon ; but that a treaty of amity and commerce 
existed between him and Hiram their king, who 
held his dominions as a favoured ally of Israel. 
Syria also got into the hands of an enemy ; and Idu- 
mea was evidently no more than tributary, or Hadad 
theEdomite could not have there enjoyed shelter and 
impunity. Others of the surrounding kings, whom 
Solomon is said to have reigned over, were in like 
manner only tributary ; whereas, in order to fulfil the 
covenant to Abraham, the territory, which at a former 
opportunity has been described, is to be possessed 
and actually portioned among the seed of Abraham. 




[a.a.c. 976.]— Up to the period of the death of Solo- 
mon, the history of Abraham's posterity flows in an 
even and unbroken stream ; but a schism occurred 
immediately after, by which the integrity of the He- 
brew empire was permanently destroyed, and two 
kingdoms were erected in its place. 

Attention has already been drawn to a distinction, 
which should be kept continually in view ; that, al- 
though it pleases God to overrule the principles and 
actions of evil men for the furtherance of his own de- 
signs, he does not therefore necessarily approve the 
men, whom he thus makes use of as his instruments* 
Often are they censured and manifestly punished, at 
the very time that God is accomplishing by their 
means the purposes of his own will, and employing 
them as a rod of correction to others ; nor can it make 
any difference, as to the matter of fact, neither cast 
any just reflection on the righteousness of God's 
government, that he should condescend to predict the 
actions of such, or grant to them a measure of pros- 


perity. Thus we shall find that Jeroboam, the son of 
Nebat, though selected as the instrument for effecting 
the schism just adverted to, and for humbling the 
family of Solomon, is nevertheless one who deserves 
and provokes punishment himself; and who proves 
also a stone of stumbling to the misguided people 
who select him as their leader. 

Rehoboam, the heir of Solomon, no sooner ascended 
the throne, than he appointed a day for his corona- 
tion. The place fixed upon for the solemnity hap- 
pened to be Shechem, in the territory of Ephraim, 
whither Jeroboam, who had heard in Egypt of the 
death of Solomon, had immediately repaired. 

The scripture notices of this important crisis are 
brief and scattered, yet sufficient to enable us to draw 
conclusive inferences of the principles and conduct 
of Jeroboam. His chief partisans appear to have 
been the light-minded and profligate, (sons of Belial, 
as they are termed,) and he availed himself of the 
inexperience of Rehoboam to provoke a rupture. 
(2 Chron. xiii. 7.) But these things by no means 
constituted the only strength of the politic Ephraim- 
ite. The various circumstances which produced a 
jealousy in his tribe have before been noticed, (see 
page 141,) to which may now be added the present 
superiority of Judah, — their increasing numbers, the 
unrivalled splendour of Jerusalem, and the fact that 
the offices of honour and emolument had, since the 
monarchy commenced, been chiefly conferred upon 
the men of that tribe and of Benjamin. Jeroboam 
therefore might safely reckon upon his own tribe; 
and he appears likewise to have had his emissaries 
among the other tribes, who promoted disaffection : 
for men are easily brought to regard with envy those 


who enjoy a political ascendency or privileges not 
possessed by themselves. Nor was there wanting a 
pretext of grievances. The large subsidies required 
for the king's household, the extensive requisition of 
personal service, and the rigid subordination main- 
tained by Solomon, would naturally be irksome to a 
people prone to rebellion and impatient of control. 

On the day therefore of the coronation, Jeroboam, 
having stirred up the chiefs of the people, approached 
the king at their head, and demanded from him a 
mitigation of service ; plausibly promising to submit 
themselves, provided that he acquiesced. The king 
desired three days to deliberate, during which inter- 
val the elders of his council advised : " If thou wilt 
be a servant unto this people this day, and wilt serve 
them, and answer them, and speak good words to 
them, then they will be thy servants for ever." The 
terms in which this advice was couched imply, that 
a measure of concession was demanded which ap- 
peared derogatory to the king ; though there can be 
no doubt that had he yielded, he would have de- 
prived the party of Rehoboam of all reasonable pre- 
tence. But the course which the king finally adopted, 
influenced by the rash counsel of youthful friends, 
was in the opposite extreme : instead of meeting the 
assembly, when the time was expired, in a concilia- 
tory spirit, he treated them with roughness, and 
threatened to increase their yoke. Jeroboam there- 
fore immediately raised the standard of revolt; Ado- 
ram, a chief officer of Rehoboam, was seized and 
stoned; the king sought safety for himself in flight; 
and the insurgents took Jeroboam and anointed and 
crowned him, instead of Rehoboam, — thus expelling 
from them the dynasty of David. 


Immediately on the return of Rehoboam to Jerusa- 
lem, he called out the troops of Judah and Benjamin, 
which tribes continued faithful, and purposed to 
attack his adversary; but a prophet was commis- 
sioned to warn him that this defection was permitted 
of the Lord; in consequence of which he desisted 
from the enterprize, and Jeroboam found himself in 
undisturbed sovereignty over the revolted tribes. 

From this period the ten tribes ever after formed a 
separate kingdom, who are sometimes called Israel and 
Jacobs from their great ancestor ; sometimes Epliraim, 
from the seat of government being in the territory of 
that tribe ; and at a later period Samaria, the name 
of the capital city afterwards erected in Ephraim. 
As Judah is likewise sometimes called Israel, it will 
avoid confusion to speak of the kingdom of the ten 
tribes always by the name of Ephraim, and first pur- 
sue its history to its termination. 

JEROBOAM I.— The first act of Jeroboam was of 
an apostate character, and too plainly betrayed the 
principles by which he was in general influenced. 
The priests and Levites throughout Palestine inclined 
(as might have been expected) to Jerusalem, and re- 
sorted thither to minister in their course. Jealous of 
their influence, Jeroboam at once decided to expel 
from his dominions all of them who would not con- 
form to his wishes ; and ordaining in their stead 
priests of his own creation, who were not Levites, 
(contrary to the express ordinance of God,) he ap- 
pointed them to offer incense in high places, and to 
sacrifice to devils. Aware also that the temple and 
worship of Jehovah at Jerusalem was still a point of 
attraction, and that numbers resorted to it from all 
the tribes to keep the feasts, and imbibed sentiments, 


by their intercourse with Judah, unfriendly to the 
stability of his throne, he caused two golden calves 
to be erected as deities, the one in the city of Dan 
and the other in Bethel, in the opposite confines of his 
territories, and instituted stated festivals in honour 
of them, as a counterpoise to the principal feasts of 
God's appointment. The immediate consequence of 
this step was a further defection from among the ten 
tribes ; for not only did the Levites, for the most part, 
leave their cities and possessions, and settle in Judah, 
(a high-minded and disinterested proceeding, seeing 
that they abandoned thereby the tithes and offerings 
of the ten tribes,) but all that feared God, indignant 
and alarmed at the profane policy of Jeroboam, came 
out from among them and were separate, and like- 
wise passed over to Rehoboam. The new empire 
was thus deprived at once of those who were as the 
salt of the earth to it ; there was no bulwark to resist 
the natural proneness of the residue to fall into sin ; 
and they were therefore precipitated at once into a 
state of irreligion, from which they never afterwards 
recovered, and drew upon themselves in the end a 
fearful but condign punishment. 

The suddenness of the fall of Ephraim has no 
parallel since the days of Aaron, when all Israel 
equally turned aside to the worship of the calf; 1 
and it cannot but excite surprise w r hen it is conr 
sidered, that only in the beginning of the previous 

1 It has already been noticed (see page 74) that Aaron's calf has 
been supposed by some to have been intended as a cherubic represen- 
tation of the deity : the same thing has been concluded of Jeroboam's 
calves j whilst others have supposed that they were intended to repre- 
sent the Apis or Serapis of the Egyptians. Baal however is called, in 
Tobit i. 5, "the heifer Baal;" and Jeroboam is accused in Holy Writ 
of sacrificing to devils. (2 Chron. xi. 15.) 


reign the worship of God appeared to be established 
in great purity and glory, and with every prospect of 
its taking deep root in the affections of the entire 
people. The laxity of Solomon himself, toward the 
latter period of his reign, must indeed have had con- 
siderable influence with many, and blunted those 
feelings of just abhorrence, with which they were 
taught to behold idolatrous rites. But even this will 
not account for the readiness of the mass to cast off 
altogether the worship of Jehovah. The further cause 
must be traced, it is to be feared, to the force of poli- 
tical interests, which have ever been found to exer- 
cise a subtle but most powerful influence upon reli- 
gion, and often in a direction contrary to its best in- 
terests. When once men are committed in a cause 
as partisans, (which was the case of the tribes in re- 
gard to Jeroboam,) they are ready to go almost to any 
lengths, and to compromise all consistency of reli- 
gious principle, rather than abandon that policy or 
party which promises to minister to their selfishness 
or vanity. 

Jeroboam fixed his own residence at Shechera; 
but Bethel he made the principal place of sacrifice, 
at which city a remarkable incident presently oc- 
curred. Whilst he was engaged in burning incense 
upon a magnificent altar which he had erected there, 
a prophet of Judah unexpectedly made his appear- 
ance, and denounced the wrath of God against the 
altar; declaring that a prince of the house of David 
should hereafter be born, and be called Josiah, (i. e. 
the fire, or zeal, of the Lord,) who should burn upon 
that altar the bones of those whom Jeroboam had 
made priests of the high places. As an earnest of 
the truth of his prediction he further declared, that 


the altar should immediately be rent. Jeroboam, 
exasperated at the boldness of the intruder, ordered 
him to be seized; when, lo! a further sign, — the 
sinews of his arm, outstretched toward the prophet, 
as he energetically commanded his apprehension, in- 
stantly withered and dried up, so that he could not 
draw the arm back again ; whilst at the same instant 
the altar was rent in twain. The king was now hum- 
bled, and intreated of the prophet to intercede for 
him with Jehovah ; which he accordingly did, and the 
arm was restored. Jeroboam then desired the pro- 
phet to come to his palace and refresh himself, and 
offered him a reward ; but both were refused by the 
Jew, who declared that he was expressly charged to 
have no social intercourse with any of the city. 1 

[a.a.c. 957.] — The impression however upon Jero- 
boam was speedily effaced, and he continued his pro- 
fane course with the same indifference as before. He 
had warfare with Judah throughout the reign of Re- 
hoboam, the result of which is not recorded ; but on 
Abijah succeeding to the throne of Judah, Jeroboam 
made war upon him with an army of eight hundred 
thousand men, and was signally defeated with the 
prodigious loss of half a million of his troops in 
killed,— the most extensive slaughter upon record. 
This happened in the nineteenth year of Jeroboam's 
reign, who never recovered from this blow, but died 
about three years afterwards, and was succeeded by 
Nadab, one of his sons. 

NADAB. [a.a.c. 955.]— The reign and the record 

i The prophet afterwards disobeyed this injunction, and was 
punished for his disobedience by the Lord ; who, in the subsequent 
part of the history, evinces the same jealousy (as will be seen) of coun- 
tenance being given to Ephraim, now that the tribes are become 


of Nadab are very brief. All that we know of his 
moral character is, that he was imbued with the pro- 
fane principles of his father ; and of the acts of his 
reign, that he laid siege to Gibbethon, a city of the 
Philistines; during which Baasha, a prince of the 
house of Issachar, assassinated him, and usurping the 
throne, exterminated every member of his family ; 
thus fulfilling a prophecy which had been announced 
to Jeroboam a little before his death. 

BAAS HA. [a.a.c. 953.]— The memorial of Baa- 
sha's reign (with the exception of one event, which 
will be related in the history of Judah,) is as brief as 
that of his predecessor. He followed in the same 
course of idolatry, and a prophet was therefore sent 
to announce a similar fate to his posterity, on account 
of this sin, and also for the murder of Nadab. He 
was nevertheless himself permitted to reign for a 
period of twenty-four years ; when he died, and was 
succeeded by his son Elah. 

ELAH. [a.a.c. 931.] — Elah to the sin of Jeroboam 
added drunkenness, a vice which was becoming very 
prevalent among the Ephraimites, who learned it of 
the surrounding nations. 1 Whilst indulging in his 

' The ultra zeal against intemperance, which has recently produced 
so many societies for its extinction, has endeavoured to show that 
drunkenness is but a modern vice ; that it was scarcely known 
among the ancients j that their wine was not of an intoxicating qua- 
, lityj and that they lowered it with water in the proportion of from 
one-half to twenty times the quantity of wine. (See the Appendix to 
a Sermon by the Rev. S. D. Wayland, p. 21, in which are several quo- 
tations from the Greek and Latin poets in support of his hypothesis.) 
But however true this might have been in some instances among the 
Greeks and Latins, the case was very different with the Asiatics. 
Herodotus speaks of the profusion of wine drunk by the Persians; 
(Clio. Sect. 133,) and of the Scythians even, he says, that at a feast to 
which they were invited by Cyaxares and the Medes, the greater part 
were cut off while in a state of intoxication. (Ibid. s. 106.) The draw- 
ings from Egyptian sculptures given by Mr. Wilkinson (vol. ii. p. 167, 


potations, he was slain, in the second year of his 
reign, by Zimri, one of the captains of his chariots ; 
who then did by the rest of the family of Baasha, as 
the latter had done by the family of Jeroboam, and 
seized upon the reins of government. 

ZIMRI. [a.a.c. 930.]— Seven days saw the begin- 
ning and the termination of the reign of this usurper. 
The army was again engaged in the siege of Gibbe- 
thon ; and as soon as the soldiers heard of the murder 
of Elah, they proclaimed Omri, the captain of the 
host, king. Then raising the siege they marched 
against Zimri ; who, despairing of the result, set fire 
to his palace, and threw himself into the flames. 

OMRI. [a.a.c. 930.]— The choice of the army was 
not generally approved, and a rival to Omri was set 
up, of whom we know nothing but the name, Tibni. 
For four years the kingdom was distracted by civil 
war ; but at length the military faction prevailed and 
slew Tibni, after which Omri reigned undisturbed. 

By him the city of Samaria was built, and called 
after Shemer, of whom he purchased the land. Omri 
exceeded in ungodliness all his predecessors, and 
died in the eleventh year of his reign. 

&c.) show how common a vice drunkenness was among both sexes 
of that nation : women are represented on their public friezes as 
vomiting from the effects 6f drunkenness, and the men as carried 
home on the shoulders of others. And even among the Greeks, the 
Lacedaemonian faction at Thebes was overpowered by Pelopidas and 
slain, owing to the same vice; (Corn. Nep. vita Pelop.) whilst the 
intemperance of Alexander the Great and others were too notorious 
to require comment. We shall find frequent evidence of the preva- 
lence of drunkenness in other people, as we pursue the Jewish his- 
tory; and drunkenness could not have been common unless the 
liquors they drank had been of an intoxicating quality. The real fact 
is, that the drunkards of Ephraim, instead of lowering their wine with 
water, were in the habit of mingling it with " strong drink," and 
they boasted of their being mighty to bear it. 



AHAB. [a.a.c. 919.]— Ahab, the son of Omri, 
succeeded him ; to whom again belonged the sad pre- 
eminence of " doing evil above all that were before 
him/' He married Jezebel, the daughter of Ethbaal, 
or Ithobalus, a priest of the Sidonians, who having 
murdered the king of Sidon, had usurped the throne. 1 
Jezebel proved herself worthy of such a parent, being 
rigidly addicted to idolatrous rites, and not hesitat- 
ing to she,d blood in order to gratify her ambition. 
Through her influence Ahab introduced into his king- 
dom the worship of Baal, to whom he erected a 
splendid temple in Samaria ; whilst on the other hand 
he endeavoured carefully to suppress all remaining 
traces of the worship of Jehovah. 

Four gradations may here be noticed of the pro- 
gress of the nation, under the monarchy, into apos- 
tacy. The first was the burning of incense in the 
high places ; which, though it was offered to the true 
God, was contrary to his appointed ordinances. This 
practice had been gradually gaining ground in Solo- 
mon's reign, though it had been discountenanced by 
David, who never resorted to it, even when he was 
painfully deprived of the means of grace. It appears 
to have been one of those plausible innovations which 
crept in under pretence of the alleged distance or in- 
convenience of the only lawful place ; and imposed, 
by its show of piety, upon weak and unstable per- 
sons, who are unable to discern that the elements of 
apostacy exist in all cases of disobedience from God's 

1 See Menander, the ancient Tyrian historian, (quoted by Josephus, 
cont. App. i. 18,) according to whom it would appear that Jezebel was 
the grand aunt of Dido, the celebrated queen of Carthage. He states 
that Carthage was founded just 143 years, and eight months from the 
building of Solomon's temple. 


ordinances. The second step was the introduction 
and worship of idols in addition to that of the true 
God, which was more particularly Solomon's offence. 
The third was the setting up of idols and of ordinances 
to compete with those of Jehovah, and with the ex- 
press view of diverting the people from Jerusalem ; 
at the same time that the worship of God was tole- 
rated in those, who chose to perform it in their own 
cities, or on high places: this was Jeroboam's sin. 
The climax was the more formal supplanting of the 
worship of God by idols, with the intent altogether to 
abolish it; and the persecution of those who conti- 
nued to be faithful to Jehovah. This was reserved 
for Ahab and Jezebel. 

The mass of the nation conformed without hesita- 
tion to the worship of Baal. Some few remained 
who still refused to bow to any other than Jehovah ; 
but these were either obliged to seek shelter from the 
storm in caves and retired places, or to suppress and 
conceal their sentiments at home. 

God however did not leave himself without a pub- 
lic witness, nor the nation without chastisement, but 
raised up an intrepid and devoted prophet to admo- 
nish both the king and the people of their sins. This 
was Elijah of Tishbeh in Gilead, whose first commis- 
sion was to intimate to the nation, that the Lord pur- 
posed to scourge it by a drought, the continuance of 
which was to be at the bidding of the prophet: having 
declared which, he hid himself for safety, and to 
watch the effect of God's controversy with the people. 
Great was the famine and distress experienced 
through a protracted drought of three successive 
years; and great the exasperation against Elijah, 
who was viewed as the author of the nation's cala- 

Q 2 


mity,— the common lot of those who foretel judgment 
as the penalty of sin. 

About the middle of the fourth year of famine, the 
confidence of the nation in Baal began to be shaken, 
and Elijah now received a commission to show him- 
self to Ahab. The prophet required of the king, that 
he should convene the whole nation to Mount Car- 
niel, together with the prophets and priests of Baal; 
and Ahab, having learnt by painful experience, that 
his word was not to be despised, complied. Elijah 
appeared at the assembly, and in order to put the 
rival claims of Jehovah and Baal to a public test 
proposed, that the prophets of Baal, 450 in number, 
should take a bullock and prepare it for sacri- 
fice, but put no fire under it ; and that he, Elijah, 
would singly do the same to another bullock ; that 
both parties should then call upon their god, and 
whichsoever answered by fire should be accounted 
as the true God. The challenge was accepted ; and 
the false prophets, having quickly prepared their 
bullock, called upon Baal from morning till noon 
without success. Elijah now attacked them with a 
piercing satire, which excited them to phrensy ;— they 
screamed aloud, leaping upon the altar, cut them- 
selves with knives and lancets, in the vain hope that 
the blood which gushed from their own veins might 
propitiate and arouse their deity : but the hour of 
evening sacrifice nevertheless approached, and still 
no one regarded them. It was now the turn of Elijah. 
Short was the interval remaining ; but with the calm- 
ness which confidence inspires he called to him the 
people, and having with their aid repaired a dilapi- 
dated altar of Jehovah, and dug a trench around it, 
fee placed the wood and the sacrifice thereon. He 


next directed the people to pour water on it, which 
was repeated until the wood was rendered unfit for 
kindling, and the trench around the altar filled. Elijah 
then offered a short but effectual prayer to God, when 
fire came down from heaven and consumed the sacri- 
fice, and the very stones of the altar itself. The people, 
struck with awe, fell on their faces, and acknowledged 
Jehovah to be God ; and then, at the command of 
Elijah, slew the prophets of Baal : after which, God 
again listened to the prayer of his servant, and sent 
an abundance of rain. Jezebel, however, on being 
informed by her husband of the striking events of 
the day, breathed forth vengeance against Elijah; 
who thereupon fled, and again concealed himself. 

Jehovah, being at length honoured by the re- 
storation of his worship for awhile, also honoured 
this short respite from idolatry, by granting to the 
nation a political deliverance of a no less extraor- 
dinary character. Benhadad, king of Syria, made 
certain arrogant demands of Ahab ; which being re- 
fused, he invaded the land, with the combined forces 
of thirty vassal princes. While he was approaching 
Samaria, the Lord sent a prophet to Ahab to assure 
him that the whole multitude should be delivered in- 
to his hand. The force which Ahab had to oppose to 
this vast multitude was only 7000 men, and God di- 
rected that of these he should take only the younger 
princes and chieftains, amounting to no more than 
232 persons; assuring him, that with these alone 
the deliverance of Israel should be accomplished: 
and it is but just to the character of Ahab to observe, 
that in this instance he obediently followed the divine 
command. Benhadad and his princes were also ad- 
dicted to the prevailing vice ; and whilst all were in 


a state of inebriety in the royal pavilion, they were 
informed that a small band of men was seen issuing 
forth from Samaria. With the insolence inspired by 
intoxication and superior numbers, the king or- 
dered them to be brought before him alive; but 
the Israelites, on the approach of his troops, slew 
each his man, when the rest turned and precipitately 
fled, and a complete overthrow ensued. 

In the following year the king of Syria again took 
the field, at the head of as great a multitude as be- 
fore. But a prophet was again sent to Ahab, who 
announced that God was jealous for the honour of 
his name ; and because the Syrians had said, that he 
was not the God of the plains, (to which they now 
purposed to confine their warfare,) therefore Israel 
should have another proof of him; At the end of 
a week the Syrians attacked, when Ephraim slew 
of them a hundred thousand in one day. The rest fled 
to Aphek, the walls of which, from some cause not 
related, fell down and slew 27,000 more. 

The Hebrews had acquired a superior character 
for clemency among the surrounding nations; re- 
minded of which, Be nh ad ad sent a deputation of 
nobles, clothed with sackcloth and with ropes round 
their necks, to deprecate the wrath and excite the 
commiseration of Ahab. The fact is worthy of remark, 
first, as evincing that the influence of a beneficent re- 
ligion continues to modify the national character of a 
people, for some time after they have ceased to re- 
cognise the source whence they have derived what 
is humane and honourable among them ; and, se- 
condly, as affording decided proof that the Mosaical 
law did not promote a merciless and ferocious spirit. 
Benhadad was not deceived as to the result of this 


appeal : Ahab immediately sent for him and received 
him as a brother, and satisfied himself with stipu- 
lating that the cities wrested from Israel should be 
restored. In this instance however of clemency, 
he acted in the same spirit of disobedience that 
Saul had betrayed in sparing Agag ; for God had 
in like manner commanded an utter destruction on 

Nor did Ahab profit by the recent signal interposi- 
tions of Jehovah. The prophets of Baal were de- 
stroyed ; but no further attempt was made to reform 
the existing abuses both in religion and justice. To 
his other offences he next added one, which outraged 
the last remains of piety and patriotism in his sub- 
jects. This was the murder of Naboth, an Israelite 
of the old school, who had too much virtue to violate 
the law of inheritance, by disposing of a vineyard to 
Ahab, which the king coveted on account of its con- 
tiguity to his palace. The affair was indeed man- 
aged by Jezebel, who found in the elders of Jezreel 
instruments sufficiently compliant to condemn Na- 
both upon a false charge of treason and blasphemy, 
and to put him to death, and all his sons, that no 
legal claimant might remain. (2 Kings ix. 26,) 

Ahab however, on proceeding to take possession of 
his newly-acquired property, met with an unwelcome 
intruder in the vineyard ; no other than the prophet 
Elijah, whom God had sent forth from his hiding- 
place to announce to the king the punishment he had 
provoked. He declared to him that dogs should lick 
the blood of the king in the very place where they 
had licked Naboth's blood ; that Jezebel should be 
devoured by dogs by the wall of Jezreel, where the 
vineyard of Naboth was situate; and that all the 


male descendants of Ahab should be violently cut 
off. The king was seized with terror, and imme- 
diately humbled himself before God with fasting and 
other acts of humiliation. This was at least better 
than heedlessness or defiance ; and the Lord there- 
fore so far remitted the sentence, as to defer the evil 
on his posterity till after his death. 

The prediction, as it concerned Ahab personally, 
was speedily accomplished. The city of Ramoth 
Gilead still remained in the hands of the Syrians ; 
but Jehoshaphat, king of Judah, coming on a visit of 
friendship to the court of Ahab, the latter availed 
himself of the opportunity to propose to the king of 
Judah to unite their forces and besiege it. The fact 
that Jehoshaphat, who was a pious king, was rebuked 
for his alliance with Ahab, and for the countenance 
which he afforded him by his presence, demonstrates 
but too plainly, that the latter had fallen again into 
his idolatrous practices; which is confirmed by the 
circumstance that he was on this occasion surround- 
ed by false prophets. By these he was infatuated to 
undertake the siege, contrary to the warning of a 
true prophet of God ; and though he entered into 
the battle in disguise, he was pierced by a random 
arrow, and died at evening, And his chariot being 
removed to a pool in Naboth's vineyard for the pur- 
pose of being washed, the dogs came about it and 
licked up the blood which had flowed into it from his 
wound. Thus fell, after a reign of 22 years, the 
weakest and the most wicked of the kings of Ephraim. 

AHAZIAH. [a.a.c. 897.]— Under the pernicious 
influence of his mother, the son and successor of 
Ahab continued in the idolatrous course pursued by 
his father; and the term of his sovereignty, which 


comprehended only two years, was distinguished by 
rebellion against God and by disaster. Perceiving 
his weakness, the Moabites, who had been reduced 
to the condition of a tributary state, shook off the 
yoke ; soon after which Ahaziah fell from the window 
of his chamber, from the effects of which he died. 

JEHORAM. [a. A.c. 895.]— Ahaziah dying child- 
less was succeeded by his brother Jehoram, or Joram ; 
who put away the idol Baal, but retained his pro- 
phets, and likewise the calves set up by Jeroboam. 

In order to reduce again the Moabites, he formed 
an alliance with the kings of Judah and Edom, and 
all three took the field in person ; but the combined 
forces were brought into great distress from the want 
of water, and were closely pressed by the enemy. 
Elijah had now been honoured by a translation to 
heaven without seeing death, and was succeeded by 
Elisha, a prophet equally eminent. To him the three 
kings repaired, at the suggestion of Jehoshaphat king 
of Judah, and sought the counsel of the Lord at his 
mouth ; who having sternly rebuked Jehoram, de- 
clared nevertheless, that out of condescension to the 
king of Judah, God would grant them a deliverance. 
The Moabites were consequently deceived by the 
Lord into a snare, and overthrown by the confederate 
kings, who afterwards destroyed their cities and laid 
waste their lands ; whilst the king of Moab himself 
wound up the catastrophe, by offering up his son and 
heir to the throne as a burnt-offering, in the vain hope 
of averting the impending calamity. 1 

There was much during the remainder of Joram's 
reign, which was calculated both to warn and to 

l See the Note, on page 100. 


awaken the nation. The college of prophets, over 
which Elisha presided, had so increased in number, 
that it was found requisite to remove it from Gilgal, 
and to build one more commodious on the banks of 
the Jordan. The members of this institution were 
occasionally sent forth on special missions ; and by 
means of their constant protest against the prevailing 
idolatry, God made use of them to gather out his 
election from Ephraim ; but no visible impression 
was made by them upon the nation in general. An 
event which occurred at this time serves to illustrate 
both these facts. Naaman, the captain- general and 
favourite of the king of Syria, was afflicted with an 
incurable leprosy ; but being assured by an Israelitish 
damsel, whom he had taken captive, that Elisha was 
able to heal him, (a proof that the labours of the 
prophet were not altogether vain,) the king of Syria 
sent him with considerable presents to Jehoram for 
that purpose. Jehoram however and his court con- 
sidered the whole proceeding as a pretext to create 
a quarrel, by demanding impossibilities ; an equal 
proof of the ignorance and unbelief of the rulers of 
Israel. Elisha however heard of the circumstance, 
and desired that Naaman might be sent to him, de- 
claring that the honour of Jehovah should be vindi- 
cated ; and the result was that Naaman departed, not 
only healed in body, but converted in heart, and re- 
solved to worship no other than the God of Israel. 

Notwithstanding the cure of his favourite, the king 
of Syria continued his hostile incursions ; though his 
plans were constantly frustrated by Elisha. At length 
however (being permitted of God, for the further 
chastisement of his people,) he invested Samaria with 
a numerous army, and laid siege to it. To such great 


straits were the inhabitants reduced on this occasion 
from the want of provision, that an ass's head sold for 
eighty pieces of silver ; and some resorted to the hor- 
rible expedient of devouring their own children. The 
king put on the exterior signs of humiliation, but was 
not humbled in heart; for breaking out into a rage 
against Elisha, as if he were the author of the ca- 
lamity, he despatched a messenger to take off his 
head. The prophet avoided the mischief; but at the 
same time sent word that there would be abundance 
in Samaria on the following day; a message which 
was received by some with unbelieving derision. It 
happened however that without the gates of Sa- 
maria were four men thrust forth as lepers, who, 
being in a state of starvation, had resolved to pass 
over to the enemy that same night. They rose up 
therefore and proceeded at midnight to the ene- 
my's camp; but were amazed on their arrival to 
find it deserted. For the Lord had caused a noise 
after dark, which the Syrians mistook for the ap- 
proach of a host; and concluding that they were 
surprised by a fresh army of hired forces, they fled, 
leaving the road to the Jordan strewed with garments 
and vessels. Thus was the city marvellously deli- 
vered, and the words of the prophet accomplished. 

But though the Lord in mercy had saved Ephraim 
from being humbled under the hand of a foreign 
enemy, he nevertheless continued to scourge the na- 
tion, and brought a famine upon the whole land, 
which continued for seven years. This also failed 
in humbling the hearts of Jehoram and bis people ; 
and God therefore now prepared to execute thejudg- 
ments against the house of Ahab threatened by Elijah. 

Jehoram having received a wound from the Syrians 


in an engagement under the walls of Ramoth, of 
which city the Israelites were at length masters, re- 
tired to Jezreel for a cure, leaving Jehu his captain 
in command. During this temporary absence of the 
king, a messenger came to Jehu from Elisha the pro- 
phet, who abruptly anointing him with oil declared 
him king, and then fled away before Jehu could re- 
cover from his surprise. Jehu was possessed of a 
daring courage and impetuosity which rendered him 
a favourite with the army ; and no sooner did he de- 
clare to them the purport of Elisha's message, than 
they arose as one man and proclaimed him king. 
With the promptitude and energy belonging to his 
character, he immediately determined on taking 
Joram by surprise ; and issuing strict orders that no 
person should be permitted to leave the city of Ra- 
moth, he departed in his chariot with a company of 
troops, and drove furiously for Jezreel. His approach 
was descried from the walls ; and the messengers, 
sent out to ascertain the object of his coming, falling 
one after another into his escort, Jehoram concluded 
that some matter of special importance must have in- 
duced Jehu to quit Ramoth, and went forth to meet 
him in his chariot, accompanied in another chariot 
by Ahaziah, the youthful king of Judah, who had 
just married into the family of Ahab, and was come 
to Jezreel to visit his cousin. Jehoram was shot 
through the heart by Jehu with an arrow; and his 
body unceremoniously cast aside into the identical 
plot that had been Naboth's, and where God had de- 
clared that he would requite Ahab. Jehu rode on 
immediately after into Jezreel, where Jezebel, who 
had received intimation of what was transpiring by 
the flight of Ahaziah and the attendants of Jehoram, 


accosted him from a window as he entered the city, 
and reminded him of the fate of the usurper Zimri. 
Jehu called to her attendants to throw her down ; on 
which the eunuchs of her own chamber precipitated 
her at once from the window, and she was trampled 
to death by the party of Jehu, who passed on without 
further delay in pursuit of the king of Judah. Aha- 
ziah succeeded in escaping to Megiddo, but not with- 
out a mortal wound, of which he soon after died, thus 
paying a severe penalty for his intermarriage with 
the abandoned family of Ahab. On Jehu's return 
into Jezreel, he sent persons to take up the corpse 
of the queen, that she might be buried suitably to 
her rank ; but they found it torn and devoured by 
dogs, which in the east prowl in multitudes about 
the towns. 

This remarkable fulfilment of the prediction of 
Elijah did not pass unnoticed by Jehu and his troops. 
The remaining prediction, concerning the posterity of 
Ahab was as speedily accomplished. His sons, to the 
number of seventy, were under the protection and 
tutelage of the governors of Samaria ; to whom Jehu 
wrote, admonishing them to put themselves upon the 
defensive and fight for them ; but they, filled with 
terror, signified their submission to Jehu, and at his 
bidding they decapitated the whole seventy, and 
brought their heads in baskets to Jezreel. At the 
same juncture the relatives of Ahaziah, ignorant of 
what had taken place, were met by Jehu on their 
way to visit Jehoram, and were likewise put to death. 
The rest of the kindred and male connexions of Ahab 
were hunted out and slaughtered in like manner; 
and many of the nobility, who were judged to be at- 
tached to his interests, met with a similar fate. Thus 


speedily was his dynasty put an end to, and all pos- 
sibility of its restoration destroyed. 

JEHU, [a.a.c. 883.] — As soon as Jehu found him- 
self established in the throne, he resolved upon the 
extermination of the followers of Baal. To this end 
he feigned to be after all a worshipper of the idol, 
and proposed to signalize his elevation to the throne 
by a great sacrifice to him. He convened therefore 
his worshippers to the festival on a day appointed, 
under the penalty of death ; and required of them- 
selves, when assembled, to make diligent search and 
reject from among them all who might be suspected 
of being secretly worshippers of Jehovah. The scru- 
tiny accomplished, he next ordered vestments to be 
brought forth and put upon the worshippers of Baal, 
in order that they might be more readily distinguish- 
ed ; and while they were engaged in offering the burnt- 
offering, the soldiers rushed in upon them and putthem 
all to the sword. Jehu then commanded the images 
of Baal to be every where burnt, and demolished his 
temple, excepting certain portions of it, which were 
converted into a public receptacle of filth ; and thus 
was this vile and demoralizing superstition a second 
time destroyed out of Israel, just at the moment 
when the followers thereof were exulting in the hope 
that they were about to enjoy a greater influence. 1 

But the heart of Jehu was nevertheless not right 
with God ; and he differed but little in spirit from 
the first king of Ephraim. Jeroboam, through poli- 
tical expediency, set up an idolatrous worship ; pro- 

i The whole has been viewed as a type of the ultimate fate of the 
apostate power mentioned in the New Testament, which having re- 
ceived a great destruction shall again rally, and be destroyed in the 
hour of its recovered ascendency ; the true worshippers of God being 
signally delivered. 


ceeding upon the principle that the people must 
have some sort of religion, and he cared not what, 
so that he could prevent them from looking toward 
Jerusalem : Jehu, on the other hand, pulled an idola- 
trous worship down ; having sufficient discernment 
to perceive that it was absurd and injurious to the 
state : but it was equally from a carnal policy that 
he acted; and the same principle induced him to 
retain the sin of his predecessor. He made his ac- 
count in turning reformer ; and hoped by his zeal 
against Baal and the house of Ahab to have his own 
dynasty established ; but he had no real intention of 
walking with God, or of putting away those abomi- 
nations which were likely to prove politically useful 
to himself. It is however worthy of remark, that 
God, whilst he punishes the delinquencies of those 
in power with the rod of jealousy, mercifully rewards 
what is good in them, and useful to his church, not- 
withstanding their motives and principles. On ac- 
count therefore of the transgressions of Jehu he 
suffered Hazael the king of Syria to overrun his 
dominions, capturing his cities and filling his plains 
with blood, even to the end of his days; whilst yet, 
on account of his obedience and zeal in things which 
had been specially commanded him, he promised 
that his children for four generations should succeed 
him on the throne. 

JEHOAHAZ. [a.a.c. 855.]— We know little of 
Jehoahaz, the son and successor of Jehu, beyond the 
facts that he did evil in the sight of the Lord, and 
persisted in the sins of Jeroboam ; in consequence 
of which the Syrians, under Hazael, the merciless 
and implacable foe of Israel, were still permitted to 
waste and destroy the land, and to reduce them to a 


state of bondage more grievous than had been expe- 
rienced since the times of the Judges. It had how- 
ever the effect, though the good impression was tem- 
porary, of inducing them to return from their idols 
and cry unto God for assistance ; who compassionated 
them, as he was wont to do, and delivered them out 
of the hand of the oppressor. The kingdom was 
nevertheless so weakened that the entire military 
force now consisted of only fifty cavalry, ten cha- 
riots, and about ten thousand infantry. 

JEHOASH. [a.a.c. 839.]— After a reign of seven- 
teen years, Jehoahaz was succeeded by his son, Je- 
hoash, or Joash. It is to the credit of this prince, 
that he appeared to cherish a filial reverence and 
affection for Elisha the prophet; who was far ad- 
vanced in years, and about to die, when Joash came 
to the crown. The king went personally to see him, 
and wept tenderly over him : nor was this tribute of 
respect and kindness to a prophet, because he was a 
prophet, without its rewards According to the pre- 
diction of Elisha at this time, he defeated the Syrians 
in three several engagements, and recovered out of 
their hands most of the cities wrested from his two 
predecessors. He likewise waged a successful war 
against Amaziah king of Judah, the particulars of 
which will be noticed in the following chapter. 

The deplorable part of his history remains and may 
be shortly told : he also did evil, and continued in the 
apostacy of the kings of Ephraim ; and God at length 
chastised him by the bands of Syria and Moab to 
the end of his reign, a period of sixteen years ; when 
he was succeeded by his son Jeroboam. 

JEROBOAM II. [a.a.c. 823.]--The early part of 
the reign of Jeroboam was like the latter part of his 


father's, distinguished for the distress and perplexity 
brought upon the nation. God still endeavoured, by 
chastening them, to wean them from their idolatries. 
The incursions of their enemies became more fre- 
quent and more daring; and the land was again 
visited with drought, accompanied by mildew, which 
brought famine and pestilence in their train. The Lord 
was likewise pitiful and forbearing toward them: 
he gave them intervals of respite ; sometimes, though 
delivered to the sword, he plucked them as a brand 
from the burning ; and he raised up numerous other 
prophets (among the most distinguished of which 
were Joel, Amos and Hosea) who testified of the 
national sins, and announced the approaching wrath. 
But all proved fruitless : from those prophets we 
learn that they still went after other gods ; whilst op- 
pression of the poor, bribery in the courts of justice, 
stealing, adultery, lying, drunkenness, murder and 
persecution of the righteous, prevailed to an awful 
extent. In vain were they smitten ; they received 
no correction : in vain did the Lord vouchsafe occa- 
sional deliverances and mercies ; they would not be 
won. At length came forth an awful sentence through 
the prophet Hosea—" Ephraim is joined to idols : 
let him alone*' From this time they were abandoned 
of God to fill up the measure of their iniquity, and 
to fall never to rise again. The instances of divine 
interference are henceforward only for the vindica- 
tion of the divine glory, and for the rescue of the 
remnant according to the election of grace : as re- 
garded the nation at large, their gleams of prosperity 
and brief intervals of deliverance and rest were but 
as snares, which led to political infatuation and to 
greater domestic profligacy. Sensuality and luxury 


increased ; their rich men passed their time on 
couches of ivory, being sumptuously clad and per- 
fumed with precious ointment, and drinking wine 
from superb vessels to the sound of music ; not believ- 
ing that a visitation was at hand. For a captivity was 
declared beyond Damascus, to be eflfected at two 
periods ; and they were denounced as among the 
first that should be carried away, who, when called 
by the prophet to national humiliation, abandoned 
themselves so much the more to feasting and carous- 
ing. (Isaiah xxii. 12, &c.) 

ZECHARIAH. [a.a.c. 771.]— Jeroboamll. reigned 
about forty years, and died, leaving his kingdom in 
great disorder. An interregnum or regency is sup- 
posed to have occurred during an interval of eleven 
years afterwards, 1 at the end of which Zechariah his 
son was made king. But he reigned only six months, 
when one Shallum conspired against him and usurped 
his throne ; the dynasty of Jehu thus terminating 
with his fourth descendant, according as foretold. 

SHALLUM. [a.a.c. 770.]— The fact that Shallum 
obtained the throne by treason and murder prepares 
us to expect no deviation in him from the same evil 
path which the previous kings of Ephraim had pur- 
sued. Retribution in kind overtook him within the 
first month of his dangerous elevation, one Menahem 
assassinating him, and reigning in his stead. 

MENAHEM. [a.a.c. 770.]— Menahem proved a 
tyrant; the scourge usually inflicted in the end upon 
a people indulging in rebellion and anarchy. As he 
passed from Tirzah to Samaria, he attacked the 
cities which had not favoured his cause, destroying 

l See the Appendix to Clinton's Fasti Hellenici, vol. i. p. 325. 


the men, and treating the women with horrid bar- 
barity. He next made a treaty with Pul, the king 
of Assyria, who had invaded him ; the basis of which 
was, that he was annually to pay to that monarch 
1000 talents of silver ; in return for which Pul was 
to establish and protect him in the kingdom. To 
obtain the money, Menahem laid a heavy impost 
upon the nobles and wealthy men, and rigorously 
exacted it. Nothing is related of him besides these 
two arbitrary and tyrannical acts ; and that he died 
without violence at the end of ten years, his son Pe- 
kahiah reigning in his stead. 

PEKAHIAH. [a.a.c. 759.]-The spirit of disaf- 
fection, which had only been repressed by the fero- 
city of the father, aided by his Assyrian ally, burst 
forth immediately on the accession of the son ; when 
Pekah, the son of Remaliah, an officer of his army, 
headed a conspiracy against him, in which Pekahiah 
was slain, after a reign of two years. 
PEKAH. [a.a.c. 757.]— The new king, besides 
^continuing the same idolatrous and superstitious 
course, greatly offended by his conduct toward Ju- 
dah. Moved by envy and resentment, he formed an 
unprincipled alliance with Rezin the king of Syria, 
for the purpose of destroying Judah. Whilst the 
one ravaged Judea on the east, the other invaded 
it on the west, butchered an immense number of 
the choicest troops of Judah, and pressed hard upon 
Jerusalem to take it. They were prevented however 
by the signal interposition of God ; upon which 
Pekah withdrew to Samaria, taking with him 200,000 
women and children captives, and an immense booty, 
collected from the conquered cities. But though the 
Lord had given Judah thus far into his hand, on ac- 

R 2 


count of their great transgression also at this time, 
and the iniquity of Ahaz their king, he neverthe- 
less sent a prophet to reprove the vindictiveness of 
Ephraim, and to announce the divine displeasure for 
reducing their brethren to slavery. 

The effect of this remonstrance was remarkable, 
and forms almost a solitary instance of good conduct 
in the history of this people. The prophet delivered 
his message before the troops, as they were about to 
enter Samaria with the captives ; upon which four 
of the princes of Samaria rose up and remonstrated 
with the officers of the army, declaring that they 
should not bring the prisoners into the city. The 
result was, that the military finally left the captives 
and the spoil at the disposal of the princes and the 
assembled multitude of Samaria, who took and 
clothed such as needed it from the spoil, anointed 
them with oil, and setting the feeble upon asses, con- 
ducted the whole to Jericho. 

Well would it have been for Ephraim had this re- 
freshing incident been followed by a more general 
repentance, and a return to the worship of Jehovah. 
But a solitary impulse to do right is no evidence in 
nations, any more than in individuals, of the exist- 
ence of the spirit of righteousness ; and the nation, in 
all other respects, continued unaltered. God now 
therefore began to execute his final judgments upon 
them. Tiglath Pileser, who had succeeded to the 
empire of Assyria, invaded the fairest provinces of 
Ephraim, — Gilead, Galilee, and Naphtali ; and hav- 
ing captured the cities thereof, he colonized them with 
his own people, and transported the inhabitants into 
Assyria. From this period, somewhere between the 
years 741 and 738 before Christ, the captivity of 


Israel, which was accomplished at different times, 
may date its commencement. 1 

Pekah, having reigned twenty years, at length fell 
in his turn by assassination. 

HOSHEA. [a.a.c. 738.]— Another interregnum of 
nine years duration took place after the death of 
Pekah ; which probably was a period of anarchy and 
civil strife, in which Hoshea, who was the mur- 
derer of the preceding king, was wading his way to 
the throne. He attained not the sovereignty until 
a.a.c. 730, 2 and retained it only about nine years ; 
being the nineteenth and last of the kings of Ephraim. 

He was no sooner seated in the throne than he 
abandoned himself to the profligacy and sensuality 
which now pervaded the nation ; but his guilty emi- 
nence was neither agreeable, nor of long duration. 
His territory was speedily invaded by the Assyrians 
under Shalmaneser, to whom Hoshea submitted and 
paid tribute ; but entering afterwards into a secret 
alliance with the king of Egypt, under whose power- 
ful protection he concluded himself secure, (though 
warned by the prophets to the contrary,) he disconti- 
nued the annual tribute. Upon this Shalmaneser 
contrived to seize his person, and threw him into 
chains. The Assyrians then again invaded the land, 
and besieged Samaria, which, after a resolute defence 
of three years, surrendered. This took place in the 
ninth year after Hoshea had ascended the throne ; 
and it was the last contention which the Lord had 
with Ephraim in their own land. For the Assyrian, 

l Most writers place this captivity somewhere between a.a.c. 74S 
and 738. I have ventured to say 741, instead of 748 ; because it cer- 
tainly did not take place till after Pekah had invaded Ahaz king of 
Judah } and Ahaz did not ascend the throne till a.a.c. 741. 
2 See Clinton's Appendix, as before. 


as before, transported them from Palestine, and lo- 
cated them in remote places of his own dominions. 1 

1 As the latter history of the kingdoms of Ephraim and Judah bring 
us into contact with the empires of Assyria and Babylonia, which are 
often in various particulars confounded one with the other, a brief 
notice of them in this place may prove useful. 

The empire of Babylonia or Shinar is considered to have been the 
earliest of the two. We have undoubted authority for stating that it 
was founded by Nimrod ; and to have extended, at a very remote 
period, northward from Babylon over Calneh (Ctesiphon,) as far as 
Accad (Nisibis) and Erech (Edessa.) Gen. x. 10. Nothing more how- 
ever is known of it until the year before Christ 2233, the highest point 
to which authentic profane history carries us, at which period an 
army of Medes occupied Babylon. (Clinton's Fasti Hellen.) This was 
about one hundred years before the time of Abraham. Three dynasties 
of Median, Arabian, and Chaldean kings succeeded, down to a.a.c. 
1237, when the Ancient empire may be said to have ended. (See Cory's 
Anc. Fragments.) 

In the mean while, the Assyrian monarchy had been growing up, 
and appears to have extended itself over Babylonia at this period, 
viz. a.a.c. 123/. The date of its commencement is uncertain. Some 
suppose that Nimrod removed his government thither at the over- 
throw of Babel, and that it was therefore identical with the Babylo- 
nian empire in the first instance j but we have again infallible autho- 
rity for assigning its foundation to Assur or Ashur, the second son of 
Shem; from whom the term Assyrian is evidently derived. (Gen. 
x. n. Psalm lxxxiii. 8.) It was first established in the territory 
marked in D'Anville as Adiabene, lying between the Tigris and the 
southern extremity of the Caspian sea. Nineveh, Rehoboth, Calah 
(or Halah, 1 Chron. v. 25,) and especially Resen, are mentioned by 
Moses as its principal cities. (Gen. x. 11, 12.) It is pretty generally 
agreed that the Ancient empire of Assyria ended with the effeminate 
Thonus Concolerus, the Sardanapalus of the Greeks, when the Medes 
under Arbaces shook off the yoke. 

Arbaces did not become the sovereign of Assyria; and after his 
death a considerable period of anarchy followed in Babylonia, during 
which a new dynasty arose in Assyria, which again became so pow- 
erful, that at length Sennacherib, about 720 a.a.c. (or 713, according 
to others,) re-conquered Media and took Babylon, which established 
the second Assyrian empire. Pul, who is the Phulus of profane his- 
torians, (Euseb. Arm. Chron. 39.) Tiglath Pileser, and Shalmaneser, 
were the immediate predecessors of Sennacherib. And Saracus was 
the last of this dynasty, whose captain-general, Nabopolassar, re- 
belled against him, and destroyed Nineveh, in which Saracus perished. 
This terminated the second Assyrian empire, about a.a.c. 606, as ap- 
pears both from the scriptures and Herodotus. The son, and imme- 
diate successor of Nabopolassar was Nebuchadnezzar, who pushed his 


Thus terminated the kingdom erected by the ten 
tribes; the annals of which exhibit altogether a 
striking and most instructive picture. It was com- 
menced in a spirit of jealousy, ambition, schism and 
apostacy; and though the rebellion or revolution 
which matured it was in human estimation success- 
ful, it was nevertheless offensive to Almighty God, 
who, by his prophet declares, that he " gave them a 
king in his anger, and took him away in his wrath : " 
(Hos. xiii. 11.) the success of the conspiracy being 
permitted of God, as a gin and a trap to the nation, 
by which they were ensnared and involved in the 
bitter consequences of their own principles. During 
the two and a half centuries that the kingdom conti- 
nued, it was cursed with a succession of profane and 
unprincipled kings; — u not one of them called unto 

conquests over Syria, Palestine, Egypt and Arabia. (See Berosus, in 

In the scriptures the Chaldee-Assyrian empire thus constituted is 
still called Assyrian, (2 Kings xxiii. 29.) and so also in some of the 
Greek writers; (see Xenophon's Cyropsed.) and with evident pro- 
priety : for they were still an Assyrian line of kings, only the seat 
of government was now transferred to Babylon. But at a later period 
the Persians, who had become powerful during the Median anarchy, 
prevailed so greatly under Cyrus, that they finally concentrated in 
themselves the empire of the world. 

But there are great discrepancies in profane historians, not only in 
the dates of the events just glanced at, but also in regard to the chief 
actors in them. Both Thonus and Saracus have been called Sardana- 
palus j the actions and conquests of Nabopolassar and his son Nebu- 
chadnezzar are confounded ; and the revival of the Assyrian empire 
has been severally ascribed to Salmaneser, Sennacherib, and Esar- 
haddon, who are each supposed to be the Nabonassar of profane his- 
tory. And the fact that Salmaneser is said to have located the 
Israelites, whom he took away captive, in cities of the Medes (2 Kings 
xvii. 6 and xviii. 11.) falls best in with the opinion of those who con- 
sider that monarch to have subdued the Medes ; at the least a portion 
of their territory must have been in the power of the Assyrians pre- 
vious to the time of Sennacherib ; and it became the policy of the 
Assyrian and Babylonian kings to colonize the countries which they 
conquered, by planting the people of one subdued region in another. 


God ; " (Hos. vii. 7.) whilst these princes themselves 
were scourged by continual conspiracies or invasions. 
The throne, reared up in the first instance by a spirit 
of faction against the house of David, was afterwards 
repeatedly shaken by factions among themselves. 
The entire reigns of their kings, deducting the two 
periods of interregnum, scarcely exceed an average 
of twelve years each ; the reigns of seven of them did 
not amount to two years each ; and among the whole 
nineteen princes there were no less than eleven differ- 
ent dynasties ; each one hurling down its predecessor 
by violence and bloodshed. The downfall of the na- 
tion was equally remarkable. They have never since 
been recovered from their captivity, or nationally 
re-established, (as we shall presently find has been 
the case with Judah ;) we are not informed of any 
season of refreshment or prosperity since enjoyed by 
them ;-— no prophet has been raised up to them ; — 
nothing has remained but a wretched and debasing 
servitude to those whose principles and superstitions 
they had preferred to Jehovah. 

Nevertheless, we have decided reason to conclude 
from the prophets, that Ephraim will at some future 
period be restored to their own land and re-united to 
Judah ; and having been purged from their idolatries 
and sin, will be blessed with great religious and poli- 
tical prosperity and glory. The further consideration 
however of this interesting subject must for the pre- 
sent be deferred. 




REHOBOAM. [a.a.c. 976.]— We now return to the 
period of the revolt of the ten tribes ; whose defec- 
tion, leaving to Rehoboam, the son of Solomon, only 
the tribes of Judah and Benjamin, gave rise to the 
kingdom of Judah, otherwise called the Jews, as dis- 
tinguished from that of Ephraim ; the tribe of Ben- 
jamin becoming so absorbed in Judah, as to be no 
longer separately mentioned. We have seen how- 
ever that almost the entire of the priests and Levites 
repaired to it ; (so that in reality it comprehended 
three tribes ;) and that the godly and conscientious 
from the remainder of Israel came over to the house 
of David, and contributed greatly to strengthen and 
establish the throne of Rehoboam. 

Though Jeroboam's was the greater sin, the conduct 
of Rehoboam, in provoking the revolt, was not passed 
over with impunity; and his reign was in several 
respects inglorious. Nevertheless, the annals of the 
kingdom of Judah present, on the whole, a striking 
contrast to those of Ephraim, in the earlier period of 


their respective histories. As if to mark the dis- 
pleasure of God at the schismatical proceedings of 
the tea tribes, and to render more manifest his favour 
toward the dynasty of David, the former imme- 
diately declined, and under a succession of unprin- 
cipled rulers became weak from anarchy within, and 
despised by the nations around ; whereas, the lat- 
ter, being blessed with numerous princes of piety 
and ability, enjoyed internally a large measure of 
peace, arose to considerable grandeur and prosper- 
ity, and was generally respected also by its neigh- 
bours. One circumstance indeed, which marked the 
era of the revolt, equally affected both kingdoms : 
viz. that God now withdrew the manifestation of his 
Spirit from the supreme ruler in Israel ; which gift, 
either in the way of prophecy, or some other form, 
had hitherto been a remarkable token of his presence 
among them. ^Whether its withdrawal was on account 
of the schism is not declared; but the fact itself is 
undeniable. We have seen that Abraham, Isaac, 
Jacob and Joseph, the heads of Israel during the 
Patriarchal period, were endowed with it; after the 
Exodus it was enjoyed not only by Moses, but by all 
the princes who formed the great council of the na- 
tions. Of the Judges it is mentioned as given in the 
instance of every one whose deeds are recorded,— 
Joshua, Deborah, Gideon, Jephthah, Samson and 
Samuel ; and finally to the three kings, (Saul, David 
and Solomon,) who ruled over the nation in its inte- 
grity : but no sooner is it dissevered, through intes- 
tine jealousies and strife, than it is withheld in gene- 
ral from the princes, and confined to the prophets, 
who both previously and afterwards were from time 
to time raised up in Israel. 


The first act of Rehoboam was to increase the 
means of defence in Jodah, particularly on the side 
toward Ephraim ; for which purpose he built several 
new cities. For three years he acted with prudence 
and discretion ; but no sooner did he consider him- 
self safely established, than casting off the fear of 
God, and forgetting the principles which had in- 
duced so many to rally round his throne, he forsook 
the law of Moses, erected hill altars and temples, 
planted groves, and adopted various superstitions of 
the heathen. The impure and effeminate practices 
likewise, by which the Canaanites had provoked the 
anger of God in the first instance, had crept into the 
land during the long previous period of wealth and 
luxury, and were now becoming crying sins among 
the whole nation. 

For the correction of the nation, God stirred up 
Shishak, the king of Egypt, who, invading the king- 
dom with a large army, captured the frontier cities 
and advanced upon Jerusalem. A prophet was com- 
missioned to announce to Rehoboam the cause of 
this visitation ; and grace brought home the message 
to his heart : he humbled himself, as did likewise all 
his nobles ; and he then received another message to 
assure him, that he should be delivered from destruc- 
tion, but should nevertheless be despoiled. Shishak 
therefore was permitted to capture Jerusalem ; but 
he contented himself with taking away the treasures 
of the temple and palace, and subjecting the country 
to tribute. 1 

i The difficulty of identifying with precision what princes of Egypt, 
mentioned in profane history, belong to the names given in the sacred 
writings, is greater even than it is in regard to the kings of Assyria. 
At the least seven different princes have been fixed upon as Shishak. 
(See Perizonius, cap. xiii.) It is evidently the same prince with whom 


This happened in the fifth year of Rehoboam ; after 
which he reigned twelve more years in tolerable pros- 
perity, and died. 

ABIJAH. [a.a.c. 959.]-— Rehoboam was succeeded 
by his favourite son Abijah, whose heart was in the 
beginning toward God ; and war breaking out be- 
tween him and Jeroboam, he made preparation for 
battle in full dependance on Jehovah. The numbers 
on each side were formidable. Judah was enabled 
to bring into the field 400,000 men, and Ephraim 
twice that number. Abijah was drawn into an am- 
bush, through the superior skill of his antagonist; 
but God nevertheless gave him a signal victory, and 
the army of Jeroboam was routed with enormous 
slaughter, as has been related in the history of 
Ephraim. Nevertheless, Abijah did not continue to 
walk with God, but turned after idols ; and was there- 
fore cut off in the third year of his reign. 

ASA. [a.a.c. 956.]— -His son Asa, a prince of great 
piety succeeded to the throne. He commenced his 

Jeroboam took refuge in the time of Solomon, and necessarily there- 
fore a successor of him whose daughter Solomon married. M. Cham- 
pollion however has concluded him, with some probability, to be the 
Sheshonk or Seconckis I. of Manetho 5 on one of the ruined palaces of 
which monarch at ancient Thebes he has discovered a triumphal pro- 
cession, in which the conqueror is represented as followed by the 
captives of various nations subdued by him. Among these is one 
with a strikingly Jewish countenance, the hieroglyphics on whose 
shield are interpreted by M. Champollion to signify Joudaha Malech. 
the king of Judah, who is therefore concluded by him, and by J S 
Wilkinson, Esq., in his work on ' Egypt,' to be no other than Reho- 
• "Si T\ Gre iS however this difficulty in the way of such a conclusion : 
viz. that the figure in question is representedas a captive, with his arms 
bound behind him, which does not agree with the scripture history of 
Rehoboam, who though humbled is not recorded to have been taken 
prisoner or led away. At the same time there is no record of the cap- 
tivity of any other prince of Judah into Egypt ^and it may have been 
customary to represent all who were vanquished in battle as captives 
in such processions. 


reign by a determined warfare against the idols and 
other abominations which had taken possession of 
the kingdom in the preceding reigns ; and even de- 
graded the queen-mother because she presumed to 
set up an image in a grove. He was rewarded for 
his zeal with a period of profound quiet for the space 
of ten years : during which he again strengthened 
the fortresses of the kingdom, and increased the 
army to 580,000 men. 

At the end of ten years the peace was interrupted 
by a formidable invasion by Zerah, king of Ethiopia, 
apparently the Cushite Arabians, who overflowed the 
land with a million of infantry and three hundred 
thousand chariots. The occasion of this war is not 
recorded ; but its result is, and proved most trium- 
phant to Asa, who, committing himself and people 
to God with a prayer of simple confidence, was 
favoured with a complete victory over his adversary, 
the plunder of all the cities belonging to him in 
the neighbourhood of Gerar, and a vast spoil brought 
into Jerusalem. 1 

Encouraged by the prophets, Asa next extended 
the reformation which he had effected at home into 
those cities of Ephraim which had been captured by 
his father ; and his kingdom was also at this time 
further enlarged by numerous cities in the neigh- 

1 It is not agreed whether these enemies were Arabians or Abys- 
sinians. Some think the latter are intended, leagued with the Egyp- 
tians j others that they were Egyptians under an Arabian general. 
(See Milman's Hist. Jews.) It is not improbable that they were in- 
stigated and aided by the Egyptians, in consequence of the discontin- 
uance of the tribute imposed by Shishak ; it is difficult otherwise to 
account for the immense number of chariots which they brought into 
the field j but "the cities of Gerar" apparently belonged to the 


bouring tribes of Simeon and Manasseh, who placed 
themselves under his protection. 

A truly refreshing revival of religion appears to 
have followed. Asa convened a solemn assembly of 
the whole nation at Jerusalem ; at which, after hav- 
ing offered numerous sacrifices with thanksgiving, 
he engaged the nation to enter into a solemn cove- 
nant, that whosoever should in future transgress 
God's commandment by the introduction of any idol- 
atrous practice should be put to death. This the 
people readily swore to, giving themselves at the 
same time with one mind to the Lord, and heartily 
rejoicing before him. And God accepted them, 
giving them peace abroad and prosperity at home. 

But Asa likewise must be shewn to be but man. 
It pleased God to permit Baasha, who now sat on 
the throne of Ephraim, to make war upon him. This 
prince, in order to prevent his subjects from visiting 
Jerusalem at all, seized upon Ram ah, a city built in 
the passes between the two kingdoms, and began to 
construct an extensive range of fortifications. Upon 
this Asa sent a considerable present to the king of 
Syria, and induced him to break his league with 
Baasha, and to attack the country nearest to Da- 
mascus ; and whilst Baasha was thus diverted for 
a while from his object, and compelled to withdraw 
his troops, Asa went up to Ramah with an army, and 
sweeping away the works already constructed, to- 
gether with the materials, built with them Geba of 
Benjamin and Mizpah. 

But God was nevertheless angered, because Asa, 
who could so simply trust in Him, when the Arabian 
king invaded the land, should now put his confidence 
in strangers, and have recourse to a foreign alliance. 


He therefore sent the prophet Hanani to rebuke him, 
and to announce continual warfare to the end of his 
reign. The conduct of Asa on this occasion betrays, 
how insensibly pride and self-complacency may be 
luxuriating in the heart even of good men, when in 
the enjoyment of power, and amid a career of reli- 
gious and political prosperity. He committed the 
prophet to prison, and greatly oppressed others, who 
probably ventured to remonstrate or to intercede. 

Toward the latter end of his reign, God first smote 
him with a disease in his feet ; but in this instance 
likewise he failed ; for it is related of him that he 
sought to physicians for a cure, instead of to God ; an 
act which was the more reprehensible in Asa, when 
it is considered that medical treatment then consisted 
chiefly in the practice of incantations, and pharmacy 
in charms. His singular want of confidence in God 
in the present instance cost him his life : for the dis- 
ease was permitted to continue its ravages, and he 
was removed by it at the end of two years, and in the 
forty-first of his reign. 

Notwithstanding these defects in the faith and 
conduct of Asa, we have assured testimony that his 
heart was " perfect with the Lord all his days ; " l 
and he was undoubtedly among the most pious of the 
descendants of David. 

JEHOSHAPHAT.— [a. a. c. 915.] Happily for 
Judah, Jehoshaphat, the son of Asa, succeeded both 
to the crown and the piety of his father. Animated 
by a laudable desire for the improvement and wel- 
fare of his subjects, he sent forth priests and Levites 

1 2 Chron. xv. 17. — A testimony which shews with how great a 
limitation the expression " perfect " is to be understood in the scrip- 
tures, when applied to the righteousness of man. 


to itinerate through the kingdom, taking with them 
copies of the Book of the Law, and preaching to and 
instructing the people out of it ; and he charged cer- 
tain of the nobles to see to the execution of the de- 
sign, both as regarded the fulfilment of the duties of 
the missionaries, and the attendance of the people on 
their instructions. This is the first instance we have 
recorded of any thing like a systematic plan of na- 
tional education ; and it was based upon the very 
best of principles, the book and the fear of God. 
From the Levites he likewise selected upright and 
pious persons to act as judges in all the cities of 
Judah ; and constituted a court of appeal in Jerusa- 
lem, consisting also of priests, Levites, and nobles'; 
the chief priest being appointed supreme judge in 
ecclesiastical matters, and the chief prince of the 
house of Judah supreme in civil causes. He also 
himself occasionally made the tour of his dominions, 
and personally inspected the different cities, exam- 
ining more especially into their religious state : for 
he was convinced that nothing but a strict adherence 
to the precepts of Jehovah was calculated to secure 
the permanent safety and welfare of his kingdom. 

The Lord gave to this excellent prince a corre- 
sponding blessing. The fear of God continued to 
prevail among his subjects, and so far extended to 
the neighbouring kingdoms that they dared not at- 
tempt any thing against a throne which they saw to 
be so eminently established in righteousness ; whilst 
the kings of Arabia and Philistia voluntarily brought 
presents and tribute. 

The commerce of the kingdom so greatly increased, 
that Jehoshaphat was obliged to erect store cities 
and magazines in various places. The disposable 


forces of the country (which however for the most 
part followed agriculture in times of peace) were 
increased to the large number of 1,160,000 men, well 
equipped, besides those which garrisoned the dif- 
ferent fortresses ; a fact which evinces how greatly 
the population must have increased during the long 
interval of prosperity which had been enjoyed ; and 
how mighty God had now made this little kingdom, 
the geographical extent of which scarcely exceeded 
the county of Yorkshire. 1 

But of Jehoshaphat also it must be shown that he 
is fallible. Notwithstanding the entire apostasy of 
Ahab, who was now upon the throne of Ephraim, 

i Those who judge only by the population of the world in the pre- 
sent day, and the fertility of land in Europe, treat the large armies 
mentioned in holy writ, and the consequent large population of the 
kingdoms in which they were raised, as incredible; but there is 
nothing more extraordinary recorded in the scriptures on these 
points, than is to be found in profane authors of the first authority. 
Tacitus relates that the city of Thebes furnished 700,000 fighting men ; 
(Annal. ii.) Strabo, that the freemen alone of Sybaris, actually drawn 
out in battalia, amounted to 300,000; (lib. vi.) Athenseus mentions 
three cities of Greece, the slaves in each of which amounted to about 
half a- million; (lib. vi. c. 20.) and Josephus says of Galilee, that it 
contained 204 cities and villages, the least of which had above 15,000 
inhabitants. Indeed the Abbe Fleury states, that from calculations 
he had made, there was not one fiftieth part of the population in 
the world in his days that existed in the time of Julius Csesar; 
though this calculation appears to be somewhat in the opposite 
extreme. Then as to the means of supply for such numbers : Dio- 
dorus Siculus relates that in Egypt sheep were twice shorn, and 
brought forth lambs twice in the year. (cap. i. 36.) Pliny speaks of 
corn which by being planted in single grains produced numerous 
stalks, bearing from 300 to 400 ears. And Herodotus writes thus of 
Babylonia, " Of all the countries which have come within my obser- 
vation, this is far the most fruitful in corn. The soil is so well adapted 
for it, that it never produces less than 200 fold : in seasons remark- 
ably favourable it will rise to 300 fold. The ear of their wheat and 
barley is four digits in size. The immense height to which millet and 
sesamum will grow I fear to mention, though I have witnessed it ; 
being aware that those who have not visited this country will deem 
it beyond all probability." (Clio, cxciii. p. 89- Edit. Steph. 1592.) 


Jehoshaphat, either flattered by the manner in which 
that prince had courted his alliance, or moved by a 
consideration of the natural affinity between the two 
kingdoms, not only entered into a treaty with him, 
but paid him a visit at Samaria, where he and his 
retinue were entertained with great pageantry and 
feasting. During this visit he likewise accompanied 
Ahab to the siege of Ramoth-Gilead, which had been 
captured from Ephraim by the Syrians; and this 
notwithstanding he had been warned by a prophet of 
God, that the expedition would not be successful. 
The result, as we have seen in the last chapter, 
proved disastrous to Ahab ; and Jehoshaphat, nar- 
rowly escaping with his life, had the mortification of 
returning to Jerusalem, rather in the manner of a 
flight than from a visit of state. 

On his return home, the cause of this humiliation 
was thus declared to Jehoshaphat by the prophets : 
" Shouldest thou help the ungodly, and love them 
that hate the Lord? Therefore is wrath upon thee 
from before the Lord." (2 Chron. xix. 2.) Which 
message, however it may be despised by the spurious 
liberality of modern politicians or religionists, never- 
theless plainly evinces, that nations, as well as indi- 
viduals, contract guilt before God by unholy and 
unprincipled alliances. 

A chastisement of a serious character was impend- 
ing. Intelligence was brought to Jerusalem that the 
country was suddenly invaded by three powerful 
states — Moab, Edom, and Ammon, and their allies. 
The confederacy had been conducted with great se- 
crecy, during the absence of Jehoshaphat ; and with 
an immense multitude of warriors the enemy had 
now rounded the southern extremity of the Dead 


Sea, and advanced as far as Engedi on their march 
to Jerusalem. The nation, and especially the metro- 
polis, was filled with alarm. The king humbled him- 
self, and immediately appointed a general fast ; which 
was observed with great solemnity, Jehoshaphat him- 
self offering public prayer and intercession. In the 
midst of it Jehaziel, a Levite, was suddenly filled 
with the Spirit, and declared to the assembly, that 
God was entreated,— that they need not fear the 
enemy, neither fight with them,— and had only to go 
forth on the morrow and witness the salvation of the 
Lord. The effect of this announcement was elec- 
trical. The king, together with the whole congrega- 
tion, fell prostrate and worshipped ; the Levites burst 
forth into a loud chorus of praise ; and the fast was 
immediately changed into the joy and cheerfulness 
of a festival. Early on the following morning the 
whole city marched forth, preceded by a company of 
singers, who praised the Lord ; and the scene more 
resembled the celebration of a triumph than the going 
forth to meet a multitudinous enemy. On their ar- 
rival at a certain watch-tower in the wilderness of 
Tekoa, they discovered that their foes were all dead 
corpses. For great jealousies had risen up among 
them; and having planted ambuscades to entrap 
the Jews, those of Ammon and Moab combined 
to surprise the Edomites instead, and actually de- 
stroyed them ; and next, being mistrustful of each 
other, a strife commenced among themselves, and 
friend and foe, owing to the darkness of the night, 
were indiscriminately massacred. With the excep- 
tion perhaps of a £ew fugitives, the mass of this im- 
mense multitude now lay prostrate before Judah, 
who were occupied three days in carrying off the 

S 2 


spoil. On the fourth day the king appointed a solemn 
thanksgiving in the valley itself where the enemy 
had encamped, which place was thence called Ber- 
achah or Messing ; after which they returned to Jeru- 
salem, and there again rejoiced with thanksgiving 
before the house of the Lord. 

One would have concluded, that the rebuke which 
Jehoshaphat received for his alliance with Ahab, and 
his remarkable deliverance from the punishment 
which he had thereby provoked, would have effectu- 
ally prevented him from falling into the like error 
again. But there are plausible arguments for such 
a step, (particularly in behalf of those who claim to be 
brethren,) that are calculated to impose even upon 
men of pious and devout mind ; and the very next year 
therefore witnesses the king of Judah entering into 
a friendly treaty with Ahaziah, the son of Ahab; the 
object of which was to build and man ships together, 
and to share between them the profits of the com- 
merce thence arising. He might perhaps have sup- 
posed that the anger of God, on the former occasion, 
was not so much on account of the apostasy of Israel 
generally, as of Ahab personally; and that the ban 
of interdiction did not therefore extend itself to his 
son : it is at least evident, that his mind was not suf- 
ficiently enlightened to perceive the mischievous ten- 
dency of his policy in a religious point of view, and 
that however specious the pretext by which it might 
be defended, it must ultimately tend to relax the 
principles of true godliness among his own subjects, 
and thus prove injurious to the real welfare of the 
nation. God however proved faithful to correct him ; 
and the fleet therefore had no sooner sailed from 
Ezion Geber than it was visited by a storm, and com- 


pletely wrecked. Ahaziah upon this proposed ano- 
ther treaty to Jehoshaphat; but the latter having at 
length been taught obedience, explicitly and firmly 
declined it. 

Jehoshaphat lived seven years after he had broken 
off his intercourse with the house of Ephraim, during 
the whole of which he continued to walk with God, 
and the nation to enjoy prosperity and peace. On 
his decease he was buried with great pomp in the 
sepulchre of David; his son Jehoram, who for two 
years previous had been associated with him in the 
government, becoming sole monarch. (2 Kings viii. 16.) 

JEHORAM. [a.a.c. 891.]— Up to this period the 
kingdom of Judah had continued faithful in the 
main, and had enjoyed a long season of glory and 
prosperity ; but from the death of Jehoshaphat may 
be dated its decline. The two princes who now oc- 
cupied the respective thrones of Ephraim and Judah 
were not only alike in name, but also in character ; 
and having had the example of his father to en- 
courage him in unholy political alliances, the king of 
Judah went further, and being destitute of piety, 
married the sister of Jehoram of Ephraim, who 
was the daughter of Ahab and Jezebel, and nur- 
tured in all the idolatries and superstitions of her 

Jehoram, immediately after having formed this 
connection, began to erect altars to the heathen 
deities ; but, though many followed his example, the 
more respectable portion of the nation disapproved 
his proceedings. Aware of this circumstance, and 
becoming thereby jealous of the greater popularity 
of his brethren, the other sons of Jehoshaphat, he 
slew them, and many likewise of the more virtuous 


of the Dobility, and compelled the remainder to con- 
form to the abominations he had introduced. 

The rod however was at hand. The heathen around 
had become wise enough to discern that the power 
and prosperity of the nation depended on its obedi- 
ence to Jehovah ; and observing therefore that it was 
now walking contrary, first the Edomites, who had 
been tributary, revolted, and came against Jehoram 
with a numerous army ; and though God delivered 
him out of their hands, yet did he not permit him to 
reduce them again to subjection. Next Libnah re- 
volted ; after which the Philistines united in a con- 
federacy with the Arabian tribes adjoining, and invad- 
ing the land, captured Jerusalem, and carried off the 
treasure, wives, and all the sons of Jehoram, except- 
ing Jeho-Ahaz, or Ahaz-iah, the youngest. 

To complete his misfortunes, the Lord smote Jeho- 
ram with a malignant disease in his bowels, insomuch 
that they fell out, and he died in great misery ; and 
so despised was he by the nation, that they buried 
him not in the sepulchres of the illustrious princes 
who had preceded him. 

AHAZTAH. [a.a.c. 884.]— The youthful Ahaziah 
succeeded Jehoram. His mother was Athaliah, an- 
other of the family of Ahab, under whose influence, 
and that of Jezebel, her sister-in-law, he fell during 
his minority. He, as has been related, went down to 
visit Jehoram of Ephraim, just when Jehu was in- 
flicting vengeance on that prince ; and was cut oiF 
before he had completed one year of his reign. 

ATHALIAH. [a.a.c. 883.]— An evil prospect was 
still before Judah. Athaliah, the mother of Ahaziah, 
was quite as profane and profligate, and even more 
ambitious, than Jezebel. On the death of her son, 


she formed the design of murdering all the branches 
of the royal family that might have any pretension to 
the throne, and of seizing the reins of government. 
In this she succeeded, with the exception of Joash, 
an infant child of her own son Ahaziah, who was 
concealed by his aunt, a woman of better spirit, the 
wife of Jehoiada the high priest. 

Athaliah, on becoming queen, set herself zealously 
to establish the worship of Baal in her dominions. 
She closed the temple of Jehovah, having previously 
stripped it of its splendid ornaments and utensils and 
bestowed them upon Baal ; after which for six years 
she gave full rein to her licentiousness and idolatries. 
In the seventh year, however, Jehoiada, having con- 
certed measures with certain chief men and officers 
for placing upon the throne the child Joash, who was 
secreted in a chamber of the deserted temple, sum- 
moned his friends upon an appointed day to the tem- 
ple, as if for sacrifice, and bringing forth to them the 
young prince, he anointed and crowned him king. 
On hearing the acclamations the queen hastened to 
the temple; but at the command of Jehoiada was 
dragged thence and slain beyond its precincts. 

JOASH. [a.a.c. 877.]— Though Joash was now 
on the throne, the kingdom was in reality governed 
by the counsel of Jehoiada and his wife ; whose bene- 
ficial influence indeed did not cease, even after the 
king had arrived at full age. The first step taken 
was to re-open the temple; the next to bring the 
whole nation into solemn covenant to worship only 
Jehovah : after which the people went forth and slew 
the high priest of Baal, demolished his temple, and 
broke down the altars and images in all directions. 

The country then enjoyed peace for upwards of 


twenty years, with the exception of a threatened at- 
tack from Hazael, king of Syria, which was averted 
by a sum of money. Soon after this Jehoiada died, at 
the advanced age of 130 j r ears ; and on account of his 
eminent services his remains were deposited in the 
sepulchres of the kings of Judah. But no sooner 
was he consigned to the tomb, than a rapid apostasy 
overspread the land ; whereby was betrayed how 
much the previous revival had been brought about and 
sustained by his personal influence ; and how little 
dependance can be placed upon a continuance in 
well-doing, when the heart is not truly converted to 
God, as was the case with Joash. The king and the 
chief nobles of Judah, as if they had been secretly 
* sighing for a toleration in licentiousness, by a de- 
liberate compact abandoned th,e God of their fathers ; 
and when the Spirit of God came upon Zechariah, 
the son of Jehoiada, who testified against them, the 
king commanded him to be stoned to death; — an 
act which at once evinced the most flagrant impiety 
toward God, and the basest ingratitude toward his 
late benefactor. 

The nation did not escape punishment for this act. 
Before the year was expired in which it was per- 
petrated, a small band of Syrians surprised Jeru- 
salem and overran the country, making havoc more 
especially of the princes and chief men, ransacking 
their palaces, and sending away the spoil to Damas- 
cus. The subjects of Joash had no power to resist, 
for God was not with them ; and his own servants, 
during the terror which prevailed, conspired against 
his life, and murdered him in his bed. 

AMAZIAH. [a.a.c. 837.]— Amaziah, the son of 
Joash, having signally avenged his father's death, 


next prepared to make war upon the Edomites ; for 
which purpose he hired a hundred thousand Israel- 
ites. God was again displeased at this alliance, and 
at the countenance thus given to Ephraim, and by a 
prophet warned Amaziah that he should fail in his ex- 
pedition, if he persisted in this intermixture ; but pro- 
mising him victory if he dismissed them. To the credit 
of Amaziah he obeyed, both disbanding the men of 
Ephraim and paying them the hundred talents for 
which he had hired them ; aud he was accordingly 
favoured with complete success against the Edo- 

We have had so many proofs, in the course of this 
history, of the deplorable inconsistency of the human 
heart, that we ought not to be surprised at any fur- 
ther display of it : yet is the conduct of Amaziah 
after this victory amazing. Though he had found 
by experience, that the gods of Edom were unable to 
defend those who put their trust in them, yet did he 
resolve to make them his trust, and immediately in- 
troduced them into Judah and bowed down to them. 

But the scourge as immediately followed. The 
troops of Ephraim, which had recently been dis- 
missed, had imprudently been left to find their own 
way home ; and this in a state of exasperation, in con- 
sequence of the reproach cast upon them. God now 
let them loose upon Judah ; and whilst the king was 
glorying in the territory wrested from Edom, these 
were, upon the opposite side of his dominions, com- 
mitting great ravages, attacking the cities, slaugh- 
tering the inhabitants, and carrying off their treasure. 
Upon the intelligence of these things Amaziah, in a 
tone of haughty defiance, prompted by his recent 
success against Edom, challenged Joash, the king of 


Ephraim, to meet him in the field. He was gener- 
ously remonstrated with by Joash, and also by a pro- 
phet, who warned him first to put away his idols ; 
but the king threatened the life of God's messenger, 
and with a rash infatuation persisted in defying 
Ephraim ; the consequence of which was, that he 
was defeated in a battle fought at Bethshemesh, and 
had the mortification to be taken prisoner by Joash, 
who afterward captured Jerusalem. Here Joash 
magnanimously set his prisoner at liberty ; but took 
hostages of him for his good behaviour ; and having 
rifled the treasury and broken down great part of 
the city walls, he departed. 

Nothwithstanding this humbling, Amaziah conti- 
nued to walk contrary to God ; and his own subjects 
soon after conspired against him, and put him to 

UZZIAH. [a.a.c. 308.]— Uzziah, the son of Ama- 
ziah, became king at the early age of sixteen years. 
He was possessed of considerable abilities both for 
war and for peace, and piously disposed withal to- 
ward Jehovah ; wherefore God favoured him with a 
long and prosperous reign of fifty-two years. Having 
rebuilt the walls of Jerusalem, and strengthened the 
defences of the kingdom throughout, he waged a suc- 
cessful warfare against the Philistines and some of 
the Arabian tribes. He then constructed numerous 
magazines, arsenals and warlike engines, 1 built va- 

1 He is said to have been the inventor of the Basilistse and Cata- 
pultae, afterwards adopted by the Greeks and Romans. (See Calmet.) 
Engines were certainly constructed by him for discharging stones and 
arrows, and attributed to the invention of his " cunning men." 
(2 Chron. xxvi. 15.) The foundation of Rome is by some writers 
placed in his reign j others place it in the succeeding reign, varying 
from b.c. 753 to 748. The era of the Greek Olympiads likewise com- 
menced in his reign, viz. b.c 777 > 


rious cities, and became so respected abroad, that 
the Syrians on the one side, and the Egyptians on 
the other, courted his friendship and sent him gifts. 

Having provided for the security of his dominions, 
so far as military arrangements were concerned, he 
next turned his attention to agriculture. He raised 
large flocks and herds ; for the protection of which he 
built folds fortified with towers, and dug wells in 
various places. He likewise planted numerous vine- 
yards, and promoted other branches of husbandry. 

But the long season of prosperity was accompanied 
by its usual attendants. From the prophets Joel, 
Isaiah and Micah, who flourished during this reign, 
we learn, that the more extended cultivation of the 
grape was followed by a wider prevalence and in- 
crease of drunkenness ; insomuch that they sold even 
their children for wine. The women became exces- 
sively addicted to fantastic apparel ; and wantonness 
followed in the train of frivolity. The rich men were 
ambitious of possessing large territories ; adding field 
to field, without any bounds to their covetousness ; 
and this to the utter contempt of the rights of those 
whose lands ought to have been restored to them. 
Frauds and deceitful weights and balances were 
common among the merchants and traders ; and un- 
righteousness and oppression perverted the fountains 
of justice. This led to the undermining of the true 
religion, and the land was again filled with idols. 

Fearful denunciations against their folds, their 
vineyards, and their towers were heard, like the 
sound of thunder rumbling in the distance ; but the 
present sunshine appeared to mock the gloomy fore- 
bodings of the prophets ; and though the nation was 
warned by a serious earthquake, (Amos i. 1. Zech. 


xiv. 5.) and called to humiliation and fasting, no 
such proceeding is recorded. There were indeed 
some who sighed on account of the abominations 
which prevailed ; and great lights were raised up for 
the comfort of these, in the prophets already named, 
and especially by means of Zechariah, a priest, to 
whom God gave great understanding by visions ; but 
whilst the Lord by their means was calling out his 
remnant, the mass of the nation was daily more and 
more provoking his wrath, and lapsing into idolatry. 
In the meanwhile the king himself became greatly 
intoxicated by prosperity, and forgetting upon whom 
he was dependant, he determined in the arrogance of 
his heart to invade the sanctuary, and to unite in 
himself the function of priest as well as king. Pro- 
ceeding on a day appointed to the temple with a 
censer, he was met by Azariah the chief priest, a 
man of virtuous and intrepid spirit, who admonished 
him of his sin, and authoritatively forbade his en- 
trance. Enraged at this resistance the king rushed 
past Azariah and his companions, and penetrated to 
the altar of jncense ; when the Lord struck him with 
leprosy, which immediately began to appear in his 
forehead, and he hastened in confusion to return ; 
being at the same time hurried, or literally turned 
out, of the sanctuary by the priests. 

Uzziah continued a leper through the remainder 
of his days ; and thus he, who had aspired to enter 
the forbidden recesses of the temple, was debarred 
by the law from access even to its courts. The same 
disease rendered him incapable of engaging publicly 
in any political functions; so that he withdrew from 
his palace to a more private residence, and appointed 
his son Jotham regent. 


JOTHAM. [a.a.c. 756.]— God's people were 
blessed with another righteous prince in Jotham. 
He waged a successful war against the Syrians of 
Ammon ; besides which nothing worthy of notice is 
related of him ; except that he " became mighty be- 
cause he prepared his ways before the Lord his God : " 
a brief but glorious and comprehensive record. 

AHAZ. [a.a.c. 741.]— After a creditable reign of 
sixteen years over a declining empire, Jotham died, 
and was succeeded by his son Ahaz, who proved a 
lamentable contrast to his father. He immediately 
set up the princes of Ephraim as his model, intro- 
duced Baal, sacrificed in high places, erected images, 
offered several of his children to Moloch, and aban- 
doned himself to every form of idolatry. 

The punishment of Ahaz for these offences was 
strikingly retributive. God raised up against him 
the Syrians of Damascus, under Rezin their king ; 
and Ephraim, whose gods Ahaz was endeavouring to 
propitiate, instead of siding with him, formed an 
alliance with his adversary. This confederacy proved 
very disastrous to Judah : on the one side the Syrians 
made great havoc, and carried off a multitude of 
captives to Damascus ; whilst, on the other, the king 
of Ephraim slew 120,000 Jews, and carried away 
200,000 women and children, together with an im- 
mense booty, to Samaria. The circumstance of these 
captives being afterwards restored has been related 
in the previous chapter. 

The combined armies next laid siege to Jerusalem, 
and the dynasty of David seemed about to fall : 
for the avowed object of these two kings was to 
dethrone Ahaz, and set up another in his place. At 
this juncture the prophet Isaiah was sent to Ahaz, 


before whom he uttered one of his most striking pre- 
dictions, concerning the final and perpetual esta- 
blishment of the kingdom of Israel, under the Righ- 
teous One or Messiah, who was to be born of a 
virgin ; and likewise announcing that the king of 
Assyria should presently dethrone the two kings who 
^ were confederate against him. To assure Ahaz and 
his court, the prophet predicted things nearer at 
hand, as a token ; but the king was unable, through 
unbelief, to derive any confidence from the prophecy ; 
and the dangers being now increased by an attack 
from the Edomites and Philistines, who took several 
cities, he anticipated the prophecy by courting the 
dangerous alliance of Tiglath-Pileser (or Tilgath- 
Pilneser) the king of Assyria, and intreating his in- 
tervention. The Assyrian did indeed attack Da- 
mascus and slay Rezin the king of Syria ; and he 
afterwards captured Samaria; but he greatly dis- 
tressed Ahaz by the presents and subsidies which he 
exacted ; he restored to him none of the towns which 
he regained from the enemy; and by establishing 
himself in Samaria, he proved a more dangerous 
neighbour than the kings of Ephraim. 

Ahaz was not improved by misfortune : he was 
rendered sensible indeed that the gods of Ephraim 
had done him no good ; but he nevertheless resolved 
to try what the gods of Syria could effect,— those 
gods whom he had just seen were utterly unable to 
protect the Syrians themselves. He presently filled 
the cities of Israel with images of these deities, and 
finally shut up the temple, after having first denuded 
it of all its ornaments and furniture, both in gold and 
brass, to satisfy the rapacity of the king of Assyria. 
Happily however for Judah, Ahaz was cut off in the 


midst of bis career : and the nation was so far sen- 
sible of his guilt, that though they interred him re- 
spectfully, as became his station, they would not 
deposit his remains in the royal sepulchres. 1 

HEZEKIAH. [a.a.c. 726.]— God again evinced 
great mercy toward Judah. The son who succeeded 
Ahaz in the throne was Hezekiah, one of the little 
remnant of believers who still remained in Zion. 
His first measure was to re-open the temple, with 
solemn trespass and thank offerings to Jehovah ; 
having accomplished which he next determined, at 
the proper season, to observe the passover, which 
had long since fallen into neglect. Proclamation 
was made, not only in all the cities of Judah, but 
throughout Israel, inviting the people to assemble 
at Jerusalem for the purpose; from which it would 
appear that Hezekiah, though he claimed no poli- 
tical jurisdiction in Ephraim, was nevertheless de- 
sirous to see all the tribes united in the worship of 
God, and to be one in ecclesiastical matters. The 
king's proclamation however met with a very dif- 
ferent reception in the two countries: in Judah the 
people unanimously complied ; but in Ephraim the 
messengers were generally treated with mockery and 
contempt ; though there was nevertheless an election 
among them, who humbled themselves before God, 

i The custom of adjudging the funeral honours due to their de- 
ceased kings, of which we have so many instances recorded in the 
scriptures, was probably derived, at a remote period, from the Egyp- 
tians ; who, according to Diodorus Siculus, had a singular custom of 
holding a post mortem tribunal upon all who died, (any person being 
permitted to call their deeds in question j) and they determined their 
funeral honours according to their previous lives, their kings not 
being exempt y " whereby (he says) their rulers were often prompted 
to acquit themselves beforehand by virtuous actions." (Diod. Sicul. 
lib. i. c. 6, 70 


endured the reproach of piety, and came up to Jeru- 
salem; most of whom afterwards permanently set- 
tled themselves in Judea. The people assembled 
at this passover were so edified by the solemnities 
thereof, that they held a meeting and determined to 
remain another week, and observe it in like manner ; 
during which they were liberally feasted at the cost 
of the king and the chief princes. Whilst thus con- 
gregated together they rose up also, filled with a zeal 
of God, and destroyed all the strange altars in Jeru- 
salem ; and on their return home they in like manner 
demolished the altars and images in all places through 
which they passed or to which they came, not ex- 
cepting several of the cities of Ephraim. Hezekiah 
himself heartily laboured to abolish every vestige of 
idolatry and superstition. He cut down the groves 
and removed the high places, the practice of burning 
incense at which had been connived at, even by the 
best kings, ever since the time of David. He like- 
wise destroyed the brazen serpent which had been 
preserved from the time of Moses, because the vener- 
ation of the people for it as a relic had grown into 
superstition, so that they burned incense to it. He 
next regulated the.service of the temple ; provided for 
the religious instruction of the people, and for the 
sustenance of the priests and Levites ; the tithes 
being brought in from all quarters with so much 
readiness, that there was a large surplus, for which it 
was necessary to build magazines. Considering him- 
self strong enough, he next shook off the yoke 
of the king of Assyria, with which his father had 
entrammelled himself; and recovered also the terri- 
tory taken by the Philistines, after having gained 
several important advantages over them. 


In the fourteenth year of his reign, the Assyrians, 
whose king was now Sennacherib, 1 invaded him with 
a large army, intending to take permanent possession 
of Judea. Hezekiah was not inactive : he made the 
needful military preparations, and succeeded in in- 
spiring his troops with great confidence, by remind- 
ing them that God was on their side. But, strange 
to relate, the heart of Hezekiah himself was the first 
to faint; for when he found that Sennacherib was 
taking his fortified cities, one after the other, he sent 
an embassy to him to Lachish, which city he was 
then investing, offering to submit to any tribute, pro- 
vided he would evacuate the Jewish territory. Sen- 
nacherib imposed on him a fine of 300 talents of 
silver, and 30 of gold ; which so exhausted the trea- 
sury of Hezekiah, that he was reduced to the expe- 
dient of stripping the doors and pillars of the temple 
of the gold with which he had previously overlaid 
them. Neither did he obtain the object he desired ; 
for the Assyrian, like his predecessor, Tiglath Pile- 
ser, took the money, but pressed the siege of Lachish 
with greater vigour, and sent forward an army, under 
his general Tartan and others, to summon Jerusalem 
to surrender. These arrogantly set forth to the peo- 
ple on the walls the successes of their master against 
other kingdoms, and the consequent folly of Judah 
in resisting, under the notion that Jehovah could effect 
what the gods of those nations could not. But Heze- 
kiah, having referred their blasphemies to Isaiah, be- 

1 Sennacherib is represented by the ancient historians as a potent 
and successful monarch up to this time. He subdued Babylonia, and 
defeated and sunk a Grecian fleet on the coast of Cilicia ; after which 
he built there Tarsis, the city of Paul, in imitation of Babylon, direct- 
ing the course of the river Cydnus through it, in the same manner 
that the Euphrates intersected Babylon. (Euseb. Armn. Chron.) 


seeching him to call upon the Lord, received an 
assurance that his enemy should return inglorious, 
and fall by the sword in his own land. Which speed- 
ily came to pass; for Sennacherib, hearing that 
Tirhakah, the king of Egypt, was advancing against 
him, sent an embassy to Hezekiah with a letter, in 
wl^ch he urged him still more vehemently to sur- 
render ; but the same night God sent forth a, de- 
stroying angel, who smote 185,000 of the Assyrians. 1 
Sennacherib now fled back in dismay to Nineveh, 
where he was assassinated by two of his sons, in the 
temple of the idol in whom he had gloried. 

This striking interposition of Jehovah, whilst it 
delivered the Jews from further apprehension from 
the Assyrians, impressed the surrounding nations 
with so full a conviction that God was on their side, 
that during the remainder of the life of Hezekiah 
they sent him gifts, and courted his friendship ; by 
which means, and the commerce it procured for him, 
his treasury was abundantly replenished. 

Soon after this, Hezekiah fell sick, and betraying 
great anxiety concerning his recovery, God promised 
him through the prophet Isaiah an extension of fif- 
teen years to the term of his life ; giving to him this 
previous sign,— thatthe shadow of a sun-dial erected 
by Ahaz should go back ten degrees. The miracle 
came to pass, and the king was restored to health ; 
but the prolongation of his days did not add to his 
glory. The fame of the miracle having reached the 
Chaldeans, who were much addicted to astrology, 
the king of Babylon sent an embassy to Hezekiah, 

i Various hypotheses have been advanced respecting the means by 
which this destruction was effected ; but the scripture is silent as to 
the second agency employed, and conjecture therefore must be vain. 


for the two-fold purpose of congratulating him on 
his recovery, and of inquiring into this astronomi- 
cal phenomenon. Flattered by the gifts and cour- 
tesies of so great a prince, Hezekiah was lifted up 
with pride, and ostentatiously displayed to the am- 
bassadors all the treasures and stores throughout his 
dominions. God sent to reprove him, and to admo- 
nish him that the cupidity of the king of Babylon 
would be excited by the report of his deputies; and 
that the days were at hand when all that was in his 
house, not excepting his children, should be carried 
to Babylon. The king and all Jerusalem with Irim 
humbled themselves before God on this report ; and 
were thereupon assured that the calamity should not 
occur in Hezekiah's days. He consequently died in 
the midst of great peace and prosperity, after a reign 
of thirty-six years ; the nation bearing testimony to 
the estimation in which he was held, by unusual 
funeral honors. 

MANASSEH. [a.a.c. 697.]— Nothing tends more 
to render manifest the superficial character of much 
of that religion which is professed, when godliness is 
patronised from the throne, than a withdrawing of 
that influence, and the substitution of an evil ruler in 
its place. Thus was Judah again sifted and proved on 
the death of Hezekiah. His son Manasseh, a youth 
of only twelve years of age, succeeded him, and im- 
mediately plunged headlong into idolatry. He re- 
built the high places, reared up afresh the altars of 
Baal, offered his sons to Moloch, and introduced 
images and heathen altars into the courts and sanc- 
tuary of the temple itself. The virtue and piety of 
the priesthood, which in the reign of Uzziah could 
resist a lesser sacrilege in a better king, was now 

T 2 


vanished ; and the people either looked on with in- 
difference, or actually conformed to the evil example 
of Manasseh ; who seduced them to practices more 
atrocious even than those, which among the Canaan- 
ites had provoked the wrath of God. The compliance 
of the nation will be the less wondered at, when the 
character given of their spiritual guides in the pre- 
ceding reign, by Isaiah and others, is taken into the 
account : viz. that they were drunken, sensual, sloth- 
ful, covetous and ignorant ; — " dumb dogs (as they are 
called,) loving to slumber, greedy, that never had 
enough, watchmen that were blind, shepherds that 
could not understand." (Isa. lx. 10, &c.) 

Manasseh did not stop at idolatry and sensuality : 
he became oppressive and tyrannical, so that Jeru- 
salem was filled with the blood of those who were 
arbitrarily put to death. The righteous prophets 
warned the nation, and reminded them of what had 
already come upon Ephraim, now in captivity ; but 
the stupor and infatuation of sin and unbelief had 
seized upon them, and the prophets were despised 
and persecuted. 1 God therefore now brought on 
them that rod, which he had foretold but deferred in 
Hezekiah's time. The king of Babylon invaded 
Judea, and having vanquished and captured Man- 
asseh, put him in fetters and carried him to Babylon. 
Affliction is a school in which many have learned 
wisdom ; and through the mercy of God it proved so 
in the case of Manasseh. In the solitude of his cap- 
tivity he turned to Jehovah with real humiliation and 

l Isaiali is supposed to have been sawn asunder in this reign ; but 
it is not probable. He is said to have prophesied in the reigns of 
Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz and Hezekiah ; but no mention is made of his 
doing so in the time of Manasseh, nor of the great age to which in 
that case he must have lived. 


penitence ; and God was entreated, and gave him 
favor in the eyes of the king of Babylon, who re- 
stored him to his kingdom. He now did all he could 
to repair his former errors. He restored the worship 
of Jehovah, and removed all the abominations of 
idolatry which he had previously introduced; with 
the exception of the high places, and at these he only 
permitted sacrifices to the true God. 

It is not recorded at what period Manasseh re- 
turned from Babylon: probably it was about the 
middle of his reign ; in which case he was devoted 
to the interests of true religion for a period of from 
twenty-five to thirty years, and completed a reign of 
fifty-five years in all, — the longest which was granted 
to any of the kings, whether of Judah or Ephraim. 

AMON. [a.a.c. 642.]— Though Amon, the son and 
successor of Manasseh, was not born until after his 
father's repentance and return from captivity, he 
nevertheless imitated the earlier portion of his reign, 
and once more led the nation into idolatry. But a 
speedy end was put to his career, by a treasonable 
conspiracy among his own servants, who deprived 
him of life in the second year of his reign. 

JOSIAH. [a.a.c. 640.]— The people avenged the 
treason that cut off Amon, by putting all who were 
implicated in it to death ; after which they set up 
his son Josiah, a child only eight years of age. But 
Josiah was richly endued of God with divine grace ; 
and as soon as he had reached his twentieth year, he 
began to assail and to suppress the abuses which he 
had hitherto tolerated. The altars of Baal were once 
more broken down, and the images of every descrip- 
tion were pounded to dust and strewed upon the 
graves of those who had been their worshippers,— a 


striking lesson to their descendants of the impotence 
of the gods in which their fathers had trusted. 

In the next year Josiah was greatly strengthened 
and encouraged by the raising up of Jeremiah, after- 
wards of great eminence as a servant of God. But 
the most remarkable circumstance, in the reforma- 
tion which the king was now carrying on, occurred 
in the eighteenth year of his reign. This was the 
discovery of the original book or roll of the Law, 
which had now been lost for many generations, but 
which was found thrown aside as lumber or rubbish 
in one of the chambers of the temple. The king on 
hearing the contents of it was deeply affected at the 
great judgments which the nation was provoking by 
a departure from it; and though immediately as- 
sured by a divine message, that he himself should be 
exempted from those judgments, yet with the spirit 
of a true patriot, he immediately set about to avert, 
if possible, the anger of God from his erring people. 
He convened a general assembly of the inhabitants of 
Jerusalem of every rank, together with the elders of 
all the cities and villages throughout his dominions ; 
and having caused the book of the Law to be read in 
their hearing, he first made a covenant with God 
himself, to walk according to what was contained 
therein, and then caused all that were present to do 
the like. 

He now prosecuted the reformation with increased 
vigour. He punished and degraded those priests, 
whom he discovered still adhering in secret to the 
abominations of idolatry; he put to death or banished 
the wizards and those possessed with familiar spirits ; 
he broke down the high places, removed the groves, 
defiled Tophet, in the valley of Hinnom, (where it 


was customary to offer children to Moloch,) and took 
away the sculptured horses that had been dedicated 
to the sun. Pursuing his course at this time into 
those cities of Judah which had formerly belonged 
to Ephraim, and having dug up and burnt the bones 
of the idolatrous priests, and strewed them upon the 
altars, for the purpose of defiling them, he espied at 
Bethel the sepulchre of the prophet, who, in Jero- 
boam's days, had foretold that a king named Josiah 
would accomplish this : a circumstance by which he 
would again be much encouraged and confirmed. He 
concluded by observing a Passover to the Lord ; 
which is recorded as having exceeded all that had 
gone before, since the days of Samuel, in solemnity 
and conformity to the Mosaic ritual. 

Considering the piety and zeal of the king; the 
eminence of Jeremiah, together with Zephaniah, 
Habakkuk, and other prophets his contemporaries ; 
the discovery and renewed promulgation of the Law ; 
the abolition of all manifest traces of idolatry and 
superstition; and the encouraging fact also, that 
there was a remnant in the nation, daily increasing, 
who feared God ; it might be concluded that religion 
was never in a more prosperous condition. But such 
was not the fact. There was no soundness in the 
mass of the nation to second the efforts of the mo- 
narch ; and the reformation was consequently in ap- 
pearance only, and not reality. The example and 
influence of a king to evil is almost certain to be 
followed by the multitude ; because the human heart 
is naturally inclined to sin, and only waits for coun- 
tenance or opportunity to rush into it: but the same 
power exercised for good produces often no more 
than a constrained conformity in externals ; even as 


Judab was at this time reproved by the prophets, as 
" dealing treacherously," " turning to God feignedly," 
and " holding fast deceit." Neither is the circum- 
stance that God raises up great lights in a nation, 
and excites by their means increased attention to re- 
ligion, a necessary indication that the body politic is 
in a healthy state ; but as, in the case of the natural 
body, the multiplication of physicians and of medi- 
cal aids often arises from the presence of some dan- 
gerous disease ; so in the present instance, Josiah 
and Jeremiah appeared to be raised up to make more 
manifest the desperate malignity of that moral disease 
with which Judah was afflicted ; just as in the worst 
periods of the decline of Ephraim, the prophets Elijah 
and Elisha were vouchsafed. The hypocrisy and 
profligacy of the priests has already been noticed : 
that of the nation generally was quite equal to it. 
They were not without a certain pride in the Mosaic 
ritual, and gloried over the Gentiles, as if they 
themselves were " the temple of the Lord/' and 
holier than other nations ; but the practical reli- 
gion and morality of the Law they considered " a 
reproach, and took no delight in it;" and with still 
greater inconsistency they adopted the abominations 
of the people they despised. They sacrificed their 
children to idols, and yet came into the sanctuary 
of God on the same day. 1 They burnt incense to 
Baal in secret, and made cakes (or offerings) to the 
moon as the queen of heaven, and poured out liba- 
tions to other gods. Their women also observed 
the solemnities of Thammuz and wept for him ; 2 

1 This is related by Ezekiel (chap, xxiii. 39.) who, though strictly a 
prophet of the captivity, describes the characteristics of this period. 

2 Thammuz was a youth of whom the heathen fabled that Venus 


lewdness, adultery, incest and more hateful sen- 
suality abounded, together with drunkenness; whilst 
covetousness, bribery, extortion, fraud, oppression, 
and even murder, were ordinary matters. The pro- 
phet challenges them to run to and fro through Jer- 
usalem and to inquire and seek ; and that if only 
one man could be found that executed judgment and 
sought the truth, God would yet pardon the city. 
But it was not pardoned. Though great mercy was 
shewn toward the remnant that sighed and cried for 
these abominations; and great glory was promised 
to them and to the church hereafter ; yet was it de- 
clared that the arm of God was still stretched forth 
to be avenged upon the nation generally, and that 
notwithstanding what was now doing by Josiah, 
wrath was determined against it. 

The first blow which the nation afterwards received 
was the sudden and inglorious removal of Josiah ; 
who, like all the worthies that preceded him, was 
left to betray, that he could not walk uprightly and 
discreetly without God. He rashly, and against the 
counsel of God, attacked Pharaoh Nechoh, as that 
prince was marching against the king of Assyria ; 
although Pharaoh generously remonstrated with 
him. A battle was fought in the valley of Megiddo, 
iu which Josiah received a mortal wound, and was 
carried back a corpse to Jerusalem. 1 The nation 
lamented him with apparent sincerity, and the grief 
of Jeremiah in particular is especially recorded. 

became enamoured j and that Mars having killed him through jealousy, 
she bewailed him at a certain period of the year. This season was 
observed by heathen women with many obscene and impure rites. 

1 Herodotus notices this battle j but he calls the Jews Syrians, Jeru- 
salem Kadytis, i.e. rWITp, the holy city, and Megiddo he mistakes 
for Magdohtm, a town of lower Egypt. (Euterpe. S. clix.) 


JEHOAHAZ. [a.a.c. 609.]— Jehoabaz, named 
also Shallum, a younger son of Josiah, was made 
king by the people, to the prejudice of his elder bro- 
ther Eliakim. For what reason he was preferred 
does not appear, unless it were for his manifest im- 
piety ; for he immediately proceeded to restore idol- 
atry, and to undo all that his father had accomplished. 
But condign punishment quickly came upon him : 
for as Pharaoh-Nechoh returned from his expedi- 
tion, he surprised Jerusalem, put Jehoahaz in chains, 
and removed him from the country, after having 
reigned only three months. He then set up Eliakim 
in his stead, changing his name to Jehoiakim. 

JEHOIAKIM. [a.a.c. 609.]— The change of the 
governor did not improve the spiritual circumstances 
of the nation ; for Jehoiakim equally departed from 
the Lord. They were now visited with serious fa- 
mine ; but instead of its producing repentance, Jere- 
miah, who took occasion to admonish them, and 
afterwards warned them of more serious judgments 
from Babylon, was scourged and put in the stocks ; 
and being a second time apprehended was about to 
be put to death, but was delivered by the interposi- 
tion of Ahikam, a pious friend, who had been the se- 
cretary of Josiah. 

The first burst of the impending storm speedily 
followed. In the third year of Jehoiakim, the great 
Nebuchadnezzar, who had just succeeded to the 
throne of Babylon, came and besieged Jerusalem, 
and the following year captured it, and carried away 
Jehoiakim in fetters of brass to Babylon, together 
with numerous other captives ; among whom was the 
eminent Daniel and his companions Hananiah, Mi- 
shael and Azariah, who were ail of the seed royal, 


and selected on account of their comeliness to be 
educated, some as magi and others as pages to Ne- 
buchadnezzar. These were also men of singular 
piety and faith in God ; an evidence that there was 
previously, even in the king's palace, a remnant of 
the heavenly seed. 

This transportation to Babylon is generally con- 
sidered as the first period or commencement of the 
captivity of Judah, and occurred in the year 606-5 
before Christ. 

Jehoiakim was soon after restored to his throne, 
on the promise of vassalage to the king of Babylon ; 
but adversity had not improved him. Jeremiah stood 
in so great danger from him, in consequence of his 
faithful admonitions, that he was obliged to conceal 
himself; whilst a message from God (which he sent to 
the king written on a roll of vellum, containing an in- 
vitation to repentance, with awful warnings of judg- 
ments if he refused,) was cut to pieces by Jehoiakim 
with his pen-knife, and cast into the fire. To destroy 
the scriptures of God,— an act which has been paral- 
leled by modern infidels and apostates,— may justly 
be considered as the climax of audacious impiety and 
defiance of Jehovah. In this instance the offender 
was given up to infatuated counsel ; and three years 
after his return from captivity, he recklessly rebelled 
against the king of Babylon : upon which the latter 
immediately laid waste Judea, and again entering 
Jerusalem slew Jehoiakim, 1 who was succeeded by 
his son Jehoiachin, called also Coniah. 

i The books of Kings and Chronicles are silent as to the manner of 
Jehoiakim's death ; but Josephus states that he was slain by the 
Chaldeans. (Lib. x. cap. 6.) That his death was violent and inglo- 
rious is evident from the prophecy of Jeremiah, " that he should 
be buried with the burial of an ass, drawn and cast forth beyond the 


JEHOIACHIN. [a.a.c. 598.]— The reign of Jehoi- 
achin, like that of Jehoahaz, terminated in three 
months ; a brief space, but sufficiently marked by in- 
iquity. Like his uncle Jehoahaz, he also was deposed 
and carried away captive by a foreign prince, Nebu- 
chadnezzar ; who at the same time sacked Jerusalem, 
and transported another portion of its inhabitants to 
Babylon ; among whom was the prophet Ezekiel. 
This event forms a second epoch in the progress of 
the captivity. 

ZEDEKIAH. [a.a.c. 598.]— Nebuchadnezzar set 
up Mattaniah, another of the sons of Josiah, chang- 
ing his name to Zedekiah. He followed in the same 
course of idolatry ; and also foolishly rebelled against 
the king of Babylon : which mad policy the Lord in 
anger permitted, that he might thereby accomplish, 
against Judah the punishment he had threatened. 
(Jer. Hi. 3.) 

The office of Jeremiah now became more unpopular 
than ever. The disposition of the Jews was to make 
an alliance with Egypt; from which country they 
hoped for protection against the Chaldeans and As- 
syrians, whom they hated : but the prophet was now 
moved, not only to denounce all dependance upon 
Egypt, but also to assure to those, who would go forth 
and submit to the king of Babylon, deliverance from 
all those evils which were coming upon their coun- 
try, and a comfortable asylum in Chaldea. 1 This 

gates of Jerusalem." This prediction evidently refers to the custom 
of adjudging the funeral rites according to the previous character : 
see note, page 271. 

1 There were some who took the warning of Jeremiah, and passed 
over to the Chaldeans ; by whom they were kindly received and lo- 
cated among their brethren of the captivity. These are probably that 
remnant seen by Ezekiel in the vision of the man with the ink-horn, 


naturally exposed him to the suspicion of being a 
traitor, in the pay of Nebuchadnezzar ; and he was at 
length seized, and again cast into prison. 

In the ninth year of Zedekiah, Nebuchadnezzar, 
who had been for some time occupied with other 
powers, again invested Jerusalem. The inhabitants, 
who during the few previous years of impunity had 
indulged the vain assurance that he would not again 
attack them, were seized with a momentary panic on 
his approach. Zedekiah sent to Jeremiah to entreat 
him to pray for them, and to inquire of the Lord ; and, 
in the hope of acceptance, both he and the rulers now 
emancipated their brethren whom they had subjected 
to slavery, — an offence against which the prophets 
had declaimed. But the answer of God proving 
unpropitious, the king in a rage threw Jeremiah 
into a dungeon ; and the elders seized again their 
slaves, and subjected them to their former state of 

The hope of the besieged was once more excited by 
the intelligence, that Pharaoh Hophra, king of Egypt, 
was approaching with an army; and their confidence 
was still more raised on perceiving the Chaldeans 
withdraw from before Jerusalem ; but their spirit only 
sank so much the more, when they found that the 
Chaldeans had prevailed, and saw them re-investing 
the city. Zedekiah was distracted by awful misgiv- 
ings of conscience, and privately sent for Jeremiah ; 
who had again been scourged, and was now in prison 
for the third time. He pledged himself to the pro- 

(chap. ix.) who was directed to mark the servants of God in their 
forehead, and secure their safety, before his companions went forth to 
make havoc of those who remained in Jerusalem. These withdrawn, 
the salt was also gone, and the city left to fill up the measure of its 


phet,tbat he should not be sent back to his miserable 
dungeon again ; but upon the elders demanding it, 
he with great weakness and treachery surrendered 
him into their hands, and they a fourth time incar- 
cerated him. In this last instance he was cast into 
a noisome pit or cess-pool within the dungeon, and 
there left to perish ; but Ebedmelech, an Ethiopian 
eunuch of rank, and one also of the little remnant of 
believers, again prevailed with the unstable king in 
behalf of Jeremiah ; upon which he was rescued from 
the pit, but still kept in confinement in the court of 
the prison. 

In the meanwhile the siege of the city was being 
pressed with vigour, and the provisions of the be- 
sieged having failed, they were reduced to the ut- 
most extremity of suffering ; women even boiling 
their own children and devouring them, in order to 
satisfy the merciless cravings of hunger. (Lam.ii.20; 
iv. 10.) The unhappy king was still vaccilating and 
irresolute : again he sent privately for Jeremiah ; who 
even now assured him, that if he would go forth and 
surrender to the king of Babylon, the city should be 
spared and himself saved ; but that if he refused he 
would be taken prisoner and the city burnt with fire. 
The power to save Jerusalem and his own life also 
was thus placed in the hands of Zedekiah ; but fear 
of the reproach to which the step would expose him 
from his subjects prevailed, notwithstanding the as- 
surance of Jeremiah to the contrary. He ultimately 
attempted to effect his escape by night; but was 
overtaken near to Jericho, his companions put to 
flight, and himself captured and brought before Ne- 
buchadnezzar. The latter commanded all his sons 
to be slain before his face ; he then had his eyes put 


out; and finally, having loaded him with chains, he 
had him conveyed to Babylon ; where he remained a 
prisoner till death put an end to his miserable ex- 

At the same time that Nebuchadnezzar thus dis- 
posed of the king, he put to death all the nobility 
found in Jerusalem, together with the chief priest, 
and a multitude of principal and official persons. 
The small remainder, who were of any consideration, 
he took away captive to Babylon, leaving the meaner 
classes to cultivate the land. And after having pil- 
laged the city, he next set fire to it, and reduced it 
to a heap of ruins. 

' Thus terminated the kingdom of Judah, in the year 
587 before Christ; about 390 years after the revolt of 
the ten tribes ; and about 480 years after the first 
establishment of the regal government in Israel. 
The change from the theocratic to the monarchical 
form of government did not in itself produce any 
increase in the real stability and prosperity of the 
people : on the contrary it only served more strik- 
ingly to evince the incapacity of man to govern him- 
self, or to effect his own happiness ; and that the 
true glory and peace of nations, as well as of indi- 
viduals, is dependent on the fear of God. When 
their kings were themselves ruled by this fear, and 
the nation, through their instrumentality, brought 
under the same influence, then they also flourished 
in their social and political circumstances ; but be- 
cause they departed from this fear, and in the end 
were dissemblers under their righteous princes, and 
greedily followed the example of ungodly ones, 
therefore both sections of this people, Ephraim and 
Judah, were now reduced to a state of political de- 


gradation lower than had been ever experienced, and 
finally were ejected from the land of promise. 

The sin of Judah was aggravated by the greater 
mercies she had received. Though several of her 
princes had toward the last been taken off by vio- 
lence, there had been no change of the dynasty of 
David ; whilst the greater number of the princes of 
this house were men of piety, and a great blessing to 
the kingdom. And though God now severely cor- 
rected them, he still had purposes of mercy in store 
for them. He sent a special message to Jeremiah for 
the encouragement of the prophet himself, and of the 
remnant of believers ; assuring him that his people 
should yet be planted in their own land and become 
glorious ; and that like as he was now bringing upon 
them the evil which he had threatened, so that he 
would hereafter rejoice over them to do them good. 
It is important however to observe that the period 
of blessing in this prophecy, principally intended, 
was to be under the sovereignty of a seed of the 
house of David ; and that by the prophet Ezekiel 
God expressly declared the prospect of permanent 
stability and peace to be so far closed, that he would 
remove the diadem and continue to overturn, until 
the period of the reign of that same prince of right- 
eousness and peace should be arrived. 1 

* Jer. xxxii. 36, &c. xxxiii. 15, &c. Ezek. xxi. 25—28. 




The officer left by Nebuchadnezzar to complete the 
destruction of Jerusalem was specially charged to 
show kindness to Jeremiah, and to allow him full 
liberty. Those likewise who had shown hitn kindness 
in the hour of his affliction— as Baruch,Ebedmelech, 
and Ahikam — participated in the prophet's improved 
circumstances. Gedaliah, the son of the latter, was 
selected to be governor over those, who were left in 
Judea to cultivate the soil. He fixed his head-quar- 
ters at the western Mizpah, and to him resorted Jere- 
miah and his friends, and many also who had taken 
refuge in the neighbouring kingdoms. 

This remnant was in no wise benefited by the re- 
cent judgments upon the nation. They manifested 
the most determined resolution not to hearken to the 
counsel or predictions of Jeremiah ; and whilst they 
still buoyed themselves up with the hope of becom- 
ing independent of Babylon, they adhered to their 
idolatries and superstitions, in a spirit of avowed and 
desperate defiance of Jehovah. Their fate however 
was singularly calamitous, 


Among those who had repaired to Mizpah was a 
prince of the seed royal, named Ishmael, with a 
small party of Ammonites. He was a wicked and 
abandoned person, and, instigated by the king of 
Amnion, he contrived by simulation and treachery 
to murder Gedaliah and a considerable portion of 
his followers, and to effect his escape to Rabbah. 1 
The remainder of the Jews, having chosen one Jo- 
hanan for their leader, now resolved to pass into 
Egypt, in spite of the earnest remonstrances of Jere- 
miah ; whom, though they heeded him not, they 
nevertheless compelled to accompany them. But 
there they were speedily overtaken by the punish- 
ment of which the prophet had forewarned them ; 
for Nebuchadnezzar soon after invaded Egypt, and 
having defeated Pharaoh Hophra, and taken him 
prisoner, put to death the refugee Jews whom he 
found there, with the exception of about 700 persons, 
whom he carried away with him to Babylon. This 
happened in the fifth year from the destruction of 
Jerusalem; after which we hear no more of Jere- 
miah. It is most probable, however, that he now 
joined his brethren at Babylon and died there; it 
being difficult otherwise to account for the preser- 
vation of his writings, which relate to this period. 

The Jewish captives were treated with great rigor, 
(excepting those who had gone over to the Chal- 
deans previous to the capture of Jerusalem,) inso- 
much that the prophets among them, and especially 
Jeremiah, denounced for this the woe of Babylon. 

1 For this atrocity the destruction of Amnion was announced by 
Ezekiel ; (cap. xxv.) who predicted also that Rabbah their capital 
should become a stable for flocks ; a prophecy which has since been 
literally fulfilled. 


For throughout, although God has made use of hea- 
then powers to chastise his heritage, he has been 
exceeding jealous in their behalf, and punished 
those powers, when they have betrayed malignity, or 
triumphed over his chosen. After awhile, however, 
circumstances arose, through the providence of God, 
which tended to mitigate the condition of the cap- 
tives, and to bring the Jewish religion into greater 
prominence : for it appears to have been a part of 
the beneficent counsel of God, not only to correct 
and purify them by affliction in the head-quarters of 
idolatry itself; but also to make them a blessing to 
the heathen, which they had failed of proving when 
in their own land. 

It has been named in the former chapter, that 
Daniel the prophet, who was of the seed royal, was 
among those carried captive to Babylon in the time 
of Jehoiakim. It pleased God to give him, and 
certain of his companions, great favour in the eyes 
of the king of Babylon, who, discovering great wis- 
dom in them, consulted with them and took their 
advice, in preference to that of the astrologers. Soon 
after this the king had a remarkable dream, which, 
though it made a lively impression upon him at the 
time, was obliterated from his memory as soon as he 
awoke. He nevertheless demanded of his diviners 
and astrologers to supply him at the same time with 
the facts of the dream and with an interpretation ; 
and when they remonstrated with him upon the un- 
reasonableness of his request, he threw them into 
prison, and commanded that all the magi should be 
put to death. 1 Daniel and his companions, being 

i Such acts of cruel and capricious tyranny were not uncommon 



numbered among the magi of the empire, were ne- 
cessarily included in the decree ; upon which he 
went boldly to the king, and demanded a respite for 
the magi ; promising that at the expiration of the 
time he would, with the help of God, both give the 
dream and the interpretation. And God, to the great 
amazement of Nebuchadnezzar, enabled Daniel to 
accomplish this : whereupon he was made prefect 
over the province of Babylon, and chief of the magi ; 
and his three companions were likewise appointed 
to situations of eminence. Thus was the phrensy 
of the despot overruled for the making manifest the 
glory of Jehovah throughout the empire of Baby- 

Another gust of furious tyranny in this monarch 
was soon after overruled in like manner by the Al- 
mighty. Nebuchadnezzar, having erected a colossal 
image of gold, commanded all his subjects, on the 
day of its dedication, to worship it, threatening to 
cast those who should refuse into a furnace. The 
three companions of Daniel were informed against 
as recusants, and immediately summoned before the 
king; who, upon hearing them express their confi- 
dence in Jehovah, and their calm determination to 
endure punishment rather than conform to idolatry, 
fell into a paroxysm of rage, and ordering the fur- 
nace to be heated seven times hotter than usual, 
commanded them instantly to be cast into it. But 
God did not desert his faithful martyrs. Whilst 

among the despots of the east. Herodotus relates that Astyages, king 
of the Medes, put to death all those who had given him erroneous ad- 
vice, as the event proved, in regard to Cyrus. (Herod. Clio, cap. 128.) 
And Xerxes, when constructing a bridge over the Hellespont, and a 
storm destroyed it, ordered the superintendants of the work to be 
beheaded, and the sea to be scourged. (Ibid. lib. vii.) 


Nebuchadnezzar gazed on the furnace, expecting 
to see his victims devoured by it, he was amazed on 
beholding them walking about unhurt, attended by 
a fourth person, whose majestic form and appear- 
ance bespoke him to be divine. He immediately 
called to them to come forth, as servants of the 
most high God ; on which they obeyed, and the 
whole assembly witnessed that they had received no 
injury. Upon this the king gave praise to God, who 
had thus frustrated his word, and so eminently deli- 
vered his servants; and promoted them to higher 

A further extraordinary dispensation of God to- 
ward this prince had the effect of greatly humbling 
his pride, and drawing from him a larger measure of 
acknowledgment and praise. It was previously in- 
timated to him, by another remarkable dream, ex- 
pounded to him by Daniel, that he should be be- 
reaved of reason and rendered brutish during the 
space of seven years, for the purpose of convincing 
him of the sovereignty of God ; all which came to 
pass. We have no mention of Nebuchadnezzar after 
this ; but the terms of a manifesto, which he pub- 
lished throughout his dominions on his restoration 
to sanity of mind, and 'in which he sets forth the 
above-mentioned circumstances, would lead to the 
conclusion fthat he was in the end converted to the 
true God. (See Dan. iv. 28—37.) 

[a.a.c. 561.] — Nebuchadnezzar was succeeded by 
Evil-merodach, as he is called in scripture; who, 
according to Jewish tradition, had administered the 
affairs of Nebuchadnezzar during his malady, and 
conducted himself so improperly, that the king, on 
his restoration, threw him into prison; where he 


formed a friendship with the captive Jehoiachin, 1 
who had now been a prisoner at Babylon for thirty- 
seven years, and had outlived his still more unhappy 
successor, Zedekiah. Certain it is that Evil-mero- 
dach, on his becoming king, released Jehoiachin 
from confinement, and treated him according to his 
rank for the remainder of his days. 

[a.a.c. 541.]— At the end of twenty years Bel- 
sliazzar, another son of Nebuchadnezzar, succeeded 
to the throne ; during whose reign the influence of 
Daniel declined, and the Jews experienced the 
greatest pressure from their . captivity. They were 
however speedily relieved from it by Darius, the 
king of the Medians, who made war on Belshazzar ; 
and having, by a stratagem of his nephew Cyrus, 
obtained possession of Babylon, he slew Belshazzar, 
and annexed his kingdom to his own dominions. 

[a.a.c. 537.]— The virtues of Daniel were not un- 
known to Darius. He divided his empire into one 
hundred and twenty provinces, over each of which 
was a prefect or governor, who were all of them sub- 
ordinate to three superior princes, of which three 
Daniel was appointed chief; and the king found 
him possessed of so excellent a spirit, that he pur- 
posed to place him alone over the entire kingdom. 
But these extraordinary marks of favour drew upon 
Daniel the envy and jealousy of the other princes, 
and they conspired together to effect his destruction. 
It is recorded that they despaired of discovering any 
thing whereof to accuse him in his government, (an 
unequivocal testimony to his uprightness ;) but that 
knowing his firmness and consistency in the alone 

i Jerome, Comm. in Isaiah xiv. 19. 


worship of Jehovah, (a testimony no less creditable to 
his religion,) they laid a snare for him in this matter. 
It was a maxim of the Medo-Persian empire, that 
no law, confirmed or signed by the king, could be al- 
tered ;— a maxim apparently based upon the prin- 
ciple, that the king was infallible ; which the revoca- 
tion or revision of a decree would seem to contradict. 
The princes therefore repaired to the king and in- 
formed him, that they had determined to establish 
a royal statute, that if any man should prefer a peti- 
tion to any other than the king himself, whether God 
or man, during the space of thirty days, he should 
be cast into the den of lions,— apparently kept for 
the punishment of criminals. The proposition flat- 
tered the vanity of Darius; blinded by which, he 
signed the impious decree, and it became law. Daniel 
was vigilantly watched ; and as he sought no con- 
cealment, was speedily discovered on his knees to- 
ward Jerusalem ; on which the princes hastened to 
report him to Darius, as one who had violated the 
decree, and who evidently despised the authority 
and majesty of the king. But the effect upon Darius 
was different from what they had anticipated. He 
immediately perceived his own error, and the craft 
and malice of the enemies of Daniel ; and it must 
doubtless have been very mortifying to discover, that 
whilst these men had been extolling him as a god,, 
they had in reality been only using him as a tool 
to serve their own malignant purposes. He how- 
ever dissembled his resentment for the present, and 
laboured assiduously for the remainder of the day 
to contrive some counteracting decree ; but in vain : 
his counsellors, instead of assisting, were urgent to 
press its execution; and the same evening there- 
fore Daniel was cast to the lions. 


Darius had some impression that God would pre- 
serve Daniel ; but he nevertheless passed a sleepless 
and anxious night ; and at break of day arose from 
his couch and hastened to the den. There, to his 
great joy, his ear was greeted by Daniel; who, in 
words which gently reproached the king for his in- 
justice, informed him, that God had indeed interposed 
and shut the lions' mouths, so that he was unhurt. 
Upon this Darius ordered him to be drawn up, and 
at the same time caused his accusers to be cast into 
the den in his stead, together with their wives and 
children, who were all immediately destroyed. 

[a.a.c. 536.] — In the following year Darius died, 
and was succeeded by his nephew, the renowned 
Cyrus ; by whom indeed Babylonia was more imme- 
diately conquered, and who added very considerably 
to the dominions of his uncle. About two centuries 
previous to this, Cyrus, like Josiah, had been speci- 
fied by name, by the Spirit of prophecy, as the person 
whom God would raise up for the deliverance of his 
people from captivity. 1 Of the circumstances which 
induced this prince to shew such particular favour to 
the Jews we are not informed. Josephus states in- 
deed, that Daniel shewed him the above prophecy 
concerning a prince of his name ; 2 and it is highly 
probable that the influence of Daniel, who was emi- 
nently prosperous in this reign, 3 had its weight with 
him. God at all events inclined the heart of Cyrus 
to restore the Jews to their own land, and to re- 
build their temple ; wherefore in the first year of 
his reign he issued a proclamation, declaring his in- 
tention to rebuild the temple, permitting any of the 

1 Isa. xliv. 28 j xlv. 1—5. 2 j s. Ant. lib. xi. 3 Dan. vi. 28. 


Jews throughout his empire to return into Judea, and 
providing for their transport and subsistence by the 
way. The proclamation caused great joy among the 
Jews ; and due preparations having been made, such 
as chose to avail themselves of the king's permission 
set forth under the conduct of Zerubbabel, a prince of 
the house of David, and Joshua their high priest; 
and being escorted by the troops of Cyrus, they came 
safely back to their own land,— which by a remark- 
able providence had remained unoccupied, so that 
they had no tenants to eject. They brought back 
with them 5400 gold and silver vessels that had been 
taken from Jerusalem, and now were restored by 
Cyrus; and were enriched also with contributions 
from the Gentiles, and offerings for the intended 
temple. 1 

The first thing the Jews did was to erect an altar 
to the Lord, on which they again offered sacrifices ; 
and in the second year of Cyrus they laid the foun- 
dations of the temple with great ceremony and 

l The number that returned has been deemed inconsiderable. It 
amounted only to 42,360, together with 245 singers, and 7337 servants, 
making a total of 49,942; among whom were several who were of the 
ten tribes, who attached themselves to Judah, and became identified 
with them. The number however is comparatively large, considering 
their condition from warfare, pestilence and famine, at the time of 
their overthrow; which had so reduced them, that the whole nation 
was likened, by a striking poetical figure, to the fragments or bones 
only of a victim, already consumed by one wild beast, and subse- 
quently gnawed and destroyed by another :— " First the king of Assy- 
ria hath devoured him; and last this Nebuchadnezzar, king of Baby- 
lon, hath broken his bones." (Jer. 1. 17.) Their great reduction may 
be more accurately judged of by the total number of captives, enu- 
merated at the three several epochs of their captivity, which only 
amounted to 14,600. (2 Kings xxiv. 14; Jer. lii. 28—30.) Then- increase 
must therefore have been considerable. Nevertheless many remained 
behind; some because they were indisposed to commence their for- 
tunes anew; and others, as Daniel, because they probably considered 
that they could better serve the interests of their country in Baby- 
lonia, where they were enjoying considerable political influence. 


mingled demonstrations of joy and regret; for the 
aged men, who remembered the former temple, wept 
aloud when they beheld the contracted dimensions 
of what was now designed. 

But the work, which appeared thus auspiciously 
begun, was destined to meet with many interrup- 
tions. In the first instance, the Cutheans and other 
people from Assyria, who had been located in the ter- 
ritory of Ephraim by Esarhaddon, proposed to unite 
in building the temple with the Jews ; not under pre- 
tence (as has been alleged,) that they were Israelites, 
but that they worshipped the same God. (Ezra iv. 
2.) For when these people were first colonized in 
Palestine, they were greatly harassed by lions and 
beasts of prey ; and concluding that it was owing to 
their neglect of the deity of the country, Esarhad- 
don sent to them a captive priest of Ephraim, for 
the purpose of initiating them in the religion of their 
predecessors. Considering the apostacy and corrupt- 
ness of the priests of Ephraim themselves, it is not 
probable that one taken at random from among them 
should himself possess the true knowledge of God ; 
and it is not surprising therefore, that pious Jews 
should have regarded with jealousy or abhorrence a 
claim to identity of worship from men, who had only 
engrafted a spurious semblance of the Mosaical cere- 
monial upon the idolatry previously entertained by 
them. 1 The determined refusal however of their 

i It is however worthy of remark, that the Pentateuch, or five books 
of Moses, was introduced among this people, at the period referred to ; 
a copy of it is still preserved among the Samaritans, who at this day 
reside at Naplous, in the vicinity of Mount Gerizim. They pretend 
that their copy is the original one, and written by Abischa, a peat- 
grandson of Aaron, whose name and genealogy are affixed to it. It 
is written in the ancient Hebrew character, (not the Chaldee, as the 
Jewish copies,) and has no vowel points ; which the Samaritans re- 


alliance by the Jews called forth the hostility and 
rancour of the Assyrian colonists, who openly inter- 
fered to prevent their building; and by means of 
hired agents at the Persian court succeeded in stop- 
ping the usual supply of materials and money. The 
Jews were thereby discouraged, and desisted from 
the work ; and their circumstances remained in this 
precarious condition during the remainder of the 
reign of Cyrus. 

[a.a.c. 520/] — On Darius the Second succeeding to 
the throne, the prophets Haggai and Zechariah were 
moved of God to reprove the Jews for their neglect, 
and to exhort them by various promises to arise 
again and build; encouraged by which, Zerubbabel 
and Joshua resumed the work, and the people co- 
operated zealously. As soon however as they com- 
menced the walls of the new city, Tatnai, the king's 
governor over the tribes between the Mediterranean 
and Euphrates, came with other princes and de- 
manded, by what authority they presumed to build ; 
and doubting the statement of the Jews, that they 
were empowered by a decree of Cyrus, he forwarded 
a representation of the matter to Darius, praying 
that search might be made to ascertain the fact. 

The decree of Cyrus was discovered among the 
imperial archives ; upon which Darius not only con- 
firmed it, but enlarged the privileges of the Jews — 
directing Tatnai to supply them out of the annual 
tribute with the means of building, also with money 

gard as an addition made to the Law by the Jews, and therefore con- 
trary to the precept, "Ye shall not add," &c. It contains certain 
manifest corruptions j but is on the whole a most valuable check 
upon, and confirmation of, the integrity of the Hebrew Pentateuch. 
They rejected all but the Pentateuch, because the remaining books 
refer to Mount Zion, instead of Mount Gerizim, as the proper place 
of worship. (See Dr. Kennicott's 2nd Dissert, p. 313.) 


for sacrifices ; and threatening those with death who 
should dare to obstruct the work.* The interference 
of Tatnai and his companions was thus overruled 
for the advancement of the work and the greater 
security of the Jews ; and the temple was com- 
pleted on the third day of the twelfth month, Adar, 
in the sixth year of Darius II. It was dedicated 
with great joy; but necessarily, from their reduced 
circumstances, with greatly diminished sumptuous- 
ness; the sacrifices being now only 100 bullocks, 
200 rams, 400 lambs, and 12 goats as a trespass 
offering for the whole twelve tribes, who were affec- 
tionately remembered. 

[a.a.c. 486— 464.]— In the reign of Xerxes, and 
again in that of Artaxerxes, the adversaries of the 
Jews endeavoured once more to frustrate their pro- 
ceedings, and wrote to the latter monarch to excite 
his jealousy against them ; pointing out to him, that 
if Jerusalem should be rebuilt and fortified, the com- 
munication between Coelo-Syria and Phenicia would 
at their pleasure be obstructed, (1 Esdras ii.) and 
reminding him of the rebellious character of the Jews 
in former times. 2 They succeeded in the present in- 

i Ezra vi. 1—12. There is no evidence of the exact date of this decree : 
it was probably in the third year of Darius, or a.a.c. 517- (Compare 
Ezra iv. 24 ; v. 1—3, &c.) 

2 I have followed, in the history of the captivity, the arrangement 
of the Rev. G. Townsend; who principally conforms to the chronology 
of Dr. Hales. But this portion of the scripture narrative is involved 
in some perplexity, and I am not fully satisfied that the arrange- 
ment here adopted is correct. The great difficulty is again the un- 
certainty, which of the monarchs mentioned in profane history is the 
Ahasuerus of holy writ; Astyages, Cambyses, Darius Hystaspes, 
Xerxes and Artaxerxes have all been fixed upon. According to Dr. 
Jennings the word Ahasuerus is compounded of two Persick words, 
signifying the great chief or prince; and he supposes it to be a title 
common to the Medo-Persian kings in general, and not a proper 
name : in which case all may have been so called. 


stance, and returned from the Persian court armed 
with authority to put a stop to further proceedings. 

[a.a.c. 458.] — A favourable change however once 
more succeeded in the circumstances of the Jews ; 
encouraged by which, Ezra, aLevite of great piety, 
visited Babylon, and obtained from Artaxerxes a 
further and munificent decree, with supplies of mo- 
ney, and additional vessels of gold and silver, as 
offerings from the king himself. He likewise per- 
mitted any of the Jews who still remained captive 
to return with Ezra to their own land ; upon which 
about 1500 males of Judah and Benjamin, together 
with about 270 priests and Levites, offered them- 
selves ; which with their women and children would 
form a company of nearly 5000 souls. A more import- 
ant authority given to Ezra at this time was that of 
appointing magistrates and governors, acquainted 
with the law of God, over all the people west of the 
Euphrates, who were to teach the laws of God and 
the king, and to punish those who refused con- 
formity, 1 

On the supposition that the Artaxerxes of Ezra 
and the Ahasuerus of the book of Esther are iden- 
tical, (for which conclusion forcible reasons may be 
assigned,) it has justly been inferred that Ezra was 
encouraged to undertake his mission to Babylon, and 
so greatly favoured in the result, by the circumstance 
that the queen of Artaxerxes was then a Jewess. For 
Vashti, the previous queen of that monarch, having 
been publicly disgraced, the nobles counselled, that, 

1 The exact date of this decree cannot be ascertained, any more 
than that of the former; but as Ezra informs us that the Jews who 
were to accompany him congregated at the river Ahava on the first 
day of the seventh year of Artaxerxes, the decree would probably 
have been made in the beginning of the sixth year of that monarch. 


in order to supply her place, search should be made 
throughout all the dominions of the king for the most 
beautiful and accomplished females; and that the 
one who most pleased him should become his con- 
sort ; upon which the choice of Artaxerxes fell upon 
Esther, called also Hadassah ; who, having lost her 
parents in her infancy, had been adopted, and strictly 
educated in the Jewish faith, by an elder cousin 
named Mordecai, to whom she rendered the obe- 
dience and reverence due to a father. 

[a.a.c. 453.]— Nevertheless, during the elevation of 
Esther an event occurred which threatened, not only 
to put a stop to the rebuilding of Jerusalem, but to 
effect the utter extermination of the Jews. The cir- 
cumstances are briefly as follow. — 

Mordecai, the foster-parent of the queen, had ren- 
dered himself obnoxious to the principal favourite of 
Artaxerxes, named Haman, who, according to Jewish 
tradition, was a descendant of Agag, the king of the 
Amalekites, slain by Samuel. Mordecai appears to 
have been in fault, having refused to render to Ha- 
man the honours commanded by his sovereign ; and 
it is not improbable that other Jews in the city Shu- 
shan, 1 influenced by his example, had likewise shewn 
themselves wanting in deference. Haman at all 
events artfully represented to the king the contuma- 
cious and dangerous spirit of the whole race, and 
proposed their utter destruction ; offering himself to 
pay a sum into the king's treasury equivalent to the 
tribute which would thereby be lost. The king, with 
the recklessness of despotic tyranny, granted Ha- 
inan's request, and also excused him the tribute; 

» Shushan and Ecbatana were the summer residences of the Medo- 
Persian kings, and Babylon the winter residence. 


and a decree was immediately issued into all the 
provinces of the empire, in the name and bearing the 
seal of Artaxerxes but dictated by Haman, 1 in 
which a certain day was appointed, (eleven months 
from the date of the decree,) whereon it should be 
lawful for any to fall upon the Jews, and destroy 
them and seize their property. 

The queen's nation was not as yet known at the 
court; but hearing of the affliction into which the 
Jews were plunged, she communicated with Mor- 
decai, through a confidential eunuch, and by him 
was informed of all particulars, and urged to inter- 
cede with the king without delay. Esther upon this 
went in to Artaxerxes as a suppliant ; who having 
prevented her request with the assurance that it 
should be fulfilled even to the half of his kingdom, 
she invited him together with Haman to a ban- 
quet; in the course of which she informed the king, 
before Haman, of the blow aimed at herself and 
people through his malice. Transported with rage, 
the king rushed forth, in the first instance, into the 
garden ; and finding, on his return to the pavilion, that 
Haman, who had stood up to supplicate for his life 
to the queen, was fallen into a swoon upon the couch 
on which she was reclined, he exclaimed, " Will he 
force the queen also before me in the house? " The 
hint was understood by the officious chamberlains, 
who immediately strangled Haman ; after which his 
body was suspended on a gallows, which he had 
himself prepared for Mordecai. 

i The manner of the preparation of this decree, as related in the 
Book of Esther, iii. 12—15, renders it highly probable, that the decrees 
of Cyrus and Darius in behalf of the Jews were drawn up by some of 
that nation. The documents themselves bear strong internal evi- 
dence of Jewish composition. 


Mordecai, whose relationship and services to the 
queen were now made known, was immediately in- 
vested with fall authority to counteract the decree 
obtained by Haman. Owing to the law of the Medes 
and Persians, already noticed, it could not be al- 
tered or withdrawn ; but a counteracting edict was 
prepared, and forwarded into the provinces by ex- 
press, granting to the Jews permission to assemble 
together on the day appointed for their destruction, 
to defend themselves with arms against those that 
would assault them, and to take the families and 
property of the slain for a spoil. The result was, 
that when the time arrived none dared to attack the 
Jews ; and a day of retribution being next permitted 
to the Jews against all who had menaced them, they 
slew 800 persons in the city Shushan, besides the 
ten sons of Haman whom they hanged ; and 75,000 
persons perished by their hands in the provinces. 
Esther, at whose instance this retribution was ob- 
tained, has not escaped the odium of being consi- 
dered sanguinary and vindictive, and apparently 
not without some reason. In no instance, however, 
would the Jews meddle with the property of the 
slain ; being satisfied with this tremendous ven- 
geance on the persons of their enemies. 

Mordecai was next made the chief prince, or grand 
vizir of the empire, and many other Jews were pro- 
moted to places of authority and honour. And so 
striking were the circumstances of this wonderful 
drama, and so manifestly was the providence of God 
exhibited therein, that many of the gentiles became 
Jews, and joined themselves to the God of Israel ; 
who thus rendered them in their captivity a blessing 
to their friends and terrible to their enemies. 


In commemoration of these extraordinary events 
the Jews instituted at the time a feast, which is 
called the feast of Purim, (i.e. the lots, because Ha- 
inan had determined on their destruction by the lot ;) 
which has continued to be observed down to the pre- 
sent day ;— a powerful testimony in confirmation of 
the narrative in the book of Esther; since no man 
can show any other origin of that festival, nor any 
other period at which it first began to be observed, 
than what is stated in the sacred record. 1 

Notwithstanding however the favour in which 
the Jews were now held in general, and the large 
powers with which Ezra in particular was armed for 
the renovation of that people as a nation, their affairs 
did not prosper in Judea. The power of the kings of 
Persia was now becoming so much weakened, that 
the provinces at the extremity of the empire were 
often in a state of insubordination, and treated the 
royal mandates with contempt, when they were op- 
posed to their interests or prejudices. Of this Ezra 
had a specimen on his journey back from Babylon. 
He had expressed his confidence of the protection of 
Jehovah so strongly before the king, that he was 
ashamed afterwards to request a military escort. 
He was consequently exposed to frequent danger 
from the hostility of the inhabitants of the provinces 
through which he passed, and from the powerful 
bands of freebooters that infested those countries ; 
so that he was between three and four months in per- 

the S n^T J T ° A b f erVe the feast of Purim ^ a strict fas * on 
Sp fw ?,, m ° nth Adar ' and by feastin S and £ rea * rejoicing on 
tlu7 \°«°T e dayS ' The book of Esther is read * the syna- 
tes^th^r ^ enS T er ' h6 name ° f Haraan occurs > the ass ^bly 
Lp^Jh mdl 2 natlon by clapping the hands, stamping with the 
feet, and crying, "Let his memory perish." 


forming the expedition. Arrived in Judea, he found 
his commission to appoint governors over the neigh- 
bouring powers, and to draw subsidies from them, of 
no avail : Sanballat, a Moabite chief, (as is supposed) 
dwelling at Samaria, Tobialv an Ammonite, one of 
the king's governors, and Geshem, an Arabian, ano- 
ther governor, openly opposed him; and at length 
put a stop to the work of rebuilding, by breaking 
down the wall of the city and burning it with fire. 

[A.A.C. 445.]— Among those Jews, however, who 
were raised to eminent stations in the court of Ar- 
taxerxes,wasNehemiah,who became the king's cup- 
bearer. He was a man of great piety and ability ; 
and having heard of the affliction still endured by 
his brethren at Jerusalem, he obtained of the king 
permission to visit them, and was also appointed 
governor of Judea for the period of his absence. 
Immediately on his arrival he convened the principal 
Jews, and having shewn them his authority from the 
king, and the encouragement he had received from 
God, he induced them once more to engage in 

He commenced first upon the wall ; and finding 
himself menaced by Sanballat and his allies, he 
caused one half of the people to keep watch with 
arms in their hands, whilst the other half engaged 
in the work; having weapons also at hand, which 
they might seize and join their comrades with, in case 
of an alarm. At night also one half kept an armed 
watch over the work, whilst the other half reposed 
on the ground with weapons by them. Sanballat 
and his allies, finding that he could not surprise the 
Jews, laid various snares for the purpose of assas- 
sinating Nehemiah ; but by the mercy of God all his 


devices were frustrated, and in the short space of fifty- 
two days the wall was finished and the gates set up. 

Having thus rebuilt the walls, truly " in troublous 
times/' (as Daniel had predicted ;) and appointed as 
governor his own brother Hanani, together with 
Hananiah, a son of Zerubbabel, (1 Chron. iii. 19.) 
he left them and returned to Babylon, according to 
his engagement with the king. 

[a.a.c. 433.]— In the thirty-second year of Artax- 
erxes, Nehemiah obtained permission to visit Jeru- 
salem again, and resumed his authority as governor. 
He found that numerous evils and disorders had 
crept in during his absence. The proper observance 
of the Sabbath had been greatly neglected ; the 
richer Jews had lent money upon usurious interest 
to their poorer brethren, and upon their inability to 
pay had reduced them to bondage, disregarding the 
year of release ; false prophets had again appeared 
among them ; many also had intermarried with the 
heathen around, and if they had not actually set up 
idols, had conformed to their abominations and evil 
practices,— a convincing proof that their captivity 
had hot cured them altogether of the spirit of idol- 
atry. 1 These and similar evils appear from Malaehi 
to have manifested themselves, more or less, during 
the whole term that had elapsed since the return 
from captivity. From a hint given by Nehemiah it 
would seem, that their own governors, and the officers 
and servants attached to them, had oppressed the 
people; 2 and Ezra, after his return from Babylon, 
had had to contend against intermarriages with the 

lEzraix. 10. 
2 Neh. v. 15. From the same place the inference is obvious that 
Zerubbabel had long: since been dead, and that more than one gover- 
nor had succeeded him. 


heathen, and for a while had suppressed the practice. 
When these things are considered, we cease to won- 
der at the slow progress made toward the completion 
of the city, and the political settlement of the Jews; 
or that God should have been provoked, during this 
period, not only to vex them by impediments from 
their neighbours, but also to send them seasons of 
dearth, inundation, and other afflictions,— as we learn 
from the prophet was the case. 

God, however, raised them up, in Nehemiah, a suit- 
able deliverer. He applied himself firmly on his 
return to the reformation of abuses, having no re- 
spect of persons, either for rich or poor. The high 
priest had allied himself to Tobiah, the Ammonite ; 
and the latter was actually located in the apartments 
of the priests in the temple. His grandson Manasseh 
had likewise married a daughter of Sanballat. And 
these and others of the chief men, who were circum- 
stanced in like manner, greatly obstructed Nehemiah 
in his proceedings, holding treasonable correspon- 
dence with Sanballat and the heathen chieftains; 
and would more than once have compassed the de- 
struction of Nehemiah, but for the prudence with 
which God endowed him. Nehemiah without cere- 
mony turned out Tobiah and his furniture, and puri- 
fied the apartments he had occupied ; and upon 
Manasseh refusing to separate from the heathen, he 
degraded him from the priesthood and banished 
him : upon which the latter went to Samaria, and 
promoted the building of a rival temple ; which 
afterwards drew many of those Jews to settle in that 
city, who desired to live under a more lax system 
than the Mosaic ritual. By these determined pro- 
ceedings against the more eminent offenders, and by 


anathematizing others who were recusant, (the first 
instance recorded of the use of this spiritual weapon,) 
he chased away the evil, and prevailed on them also 
to liberate their Jewish brethren from slavery. 

It contributed materially to strengthen the hands of 
Nehemiah, that the people expressed a desire to 
know the contents of the holy scriptures, which had 
happily been preserved during the captivity; in con- 
sequence of which Ezra appointed stated opportu- 
nities, in which he both read and expounded them. 1 
By this means the people were more clearly con- 
vinced of the deviations which they had made from 
the holy law. The services of the temple were now 
also regulated, and the feasts revived, especially the 
feast of tabernacles, which had not been so solemnly 
observed since the days of Joshua. He also en- 
forced a strict observance of the Sabbath-day, re- 
straining the people from buying and selling and 
from servile work, and causing the gates to be shut 
upon the previous evening against the Tyrian mer- 
chants and pedlars, who were chased away by his 
guards when found hovering upon the Sabbath under 
the walls. Finally he engaged the people in a so- 
lemn covenant and oath to observe the law of Moses, 
and keep all the statutes thereof; nor should it be 
omitted, as a proof of the patriotism and disinterest- 
edness of this upright governor, that he refused to 
burden the people with any taxes for his own main- 
tenance, but on the contrary was at a great expense 
himself in order to maintain others. 

1 At this period Ezra is concluded to have revised the Canon of the 
scriptures,— to have multiplied copies of them,— and to have written 
the Chaldee Paraphrase or Targum; which became necessary in con- 
sequence of the people, during their residence in Babylon, having 
greatly lost the pure Hebrew. 


The past history of this people, however, has 
evinced, that frequently as solemn compacts with 
God have been entered into, and reforms effected, 
they have only served to render more manifest the 
corruptness and infirmity of human nature. No re- 
ligious bonds, neither legal nor political restraints, 
— however excellent in themselves, or needed for the 
protection and encouragement of the righteous por- 
tion of society, — can infuse into the heart a relish for 
spiritual things, or awaken it to a just sense of its 
eternal interests. Thus, in the latter part of Nehe- 
miab's government, notwithstanding his continued 
vigilance, the spiritual condition of the nation was 
far from satisfactory : we learn from Malachi, that, 
though there was much of outward decorum, heart- 
lessness, formality, and gross hypocrisy nevertheless 
prevailed. Divorce was practised to a lamentable 
extent; whilst adultery, perjury, oppression, and 
even sorcery, are sharply rebuked. Yet do we learn, 
from the same infallible source, that there was, as 
usual, a remnant " that feared the Lord, and spake 
often one to another," concerning those things which 
were pleasing and acceptable to him. (Mai. iii. 16.) 




The Family of Jehoiarib. 

The civil and ecclesiastical 1 affairs of the Jews being 
finally settled under the government of Nehemiah, 
their re-establishment in Palestine may now be con- 
sidered as completed. Their present condition, how- 
ever, both in a religious and a political respect, 
differed materially from that which they had enjoyed 
previous to the captivity. 

First may be noticed the gift of prophecy, which 
had previously been vouchsafed to the patriarchs, 
judges and kings, and even to the seventy elders, 
whilst the nation remained entire; but was with- 
drawn from the rulers after the schism of the ten 
tribes, and restricted to the prophets, who were at all 
times raised up among them. At the period upon 
which we now enter that gift was altogether with- 
drawn, and the prophecy and vision sealed up; there 
being no Urim and Thummim, no Shechinah, nor 
any other manifest token of the divine presence. 

In the next place, they were no longer an inde- 


pendent people, but in a state of subjection, and 
under tribute, to the tyrants of the Persian empire. 
Of this fact the words of Nehemiah himself are suffi- 
cient evidence : " Behold, we are servants this day ; 
and for the land that thou gavest unto our fathers to 
eat the fruit thereof, and the good thereof, behold, 
we are servants in it ; and it yieldeth much increase 
unto the kings whom thou hast set over us because 
of our sins : also they have dominion over our bodies 
and over our cattle, at their pleasure, and we are in 
great distress/' (Neh. ix. 36, 37.) 

Thirdly, they were no longer governed by the 
family of David. Zerubbabel, under whom they re- 
turned from captivity, was a prince of that house ; 
and we have seen that one of his sons was appointed 
joint governor by Nehemiah with his own brother, 
during the period of his return to Babylon. Nehe- 
miah is also supposed to have been of the same 
family, but without sufficient evidence. After his 
death however, no other governor was appointed in 
his place ; but a Sanhedrin or council having been 
previously constituted for the regulation of eccle- 
siastical matters, under the presidency of the high 
priest, 1 the pontiffs gradually assumed the exercise 
of authority in civil affairs, and became virtually 
the governors. 

The above circumstances, together with their pre- 
carious and unsettled condition throughout the whole 
period down to their next ejectment from Palestine, 
and the want of permanency of possession which 

i This senate is stated to have been revived by Ezra and Nehemiah, 
and to have consisted of one hundred and twenty members. But after 
the death of Simon the Just, it was reduced to seventy, together 
with two superiors ; the one of whom was called Nassi, or President, 
and the other Ab-beth-din, or father of the Sanhedrin. 


that event indicated, render manifest that the mass 
of the prophecies, which speak of a restoration from 
captivity, must refer to a very different state of 
things, and consequently a different period, from that 
now under consideration. 

[a.a.c. 373— 340.]— Jonathan, or Johanan, brother 
of that Manasseh whom Nehemiah banished, had 
now succeeded to the priesthood. Hitherto it had 
descended regularly in the family of that Joshua 
who returned with Zerubbabel, and who was himself 
lineally descended from Jehoiarib, of the first class 
appointed by David. (2 Chron. xxiv. 7.) But Ba- 
goses, the prefect of Syria, having contracted an 
intimacy with Jeshua, another brother of Johanan, 
deposed the latter and set up Jeshua in his place. 
Johanan revenged his wrong by assassinating his 
brother Jeshua in the inner court of the temple ; 
and Bagoses, hastening to ascertain the fact, was re- 
fused admittance by the priests. This afforded him 
too just an occasion of severely reflecting upon their 
hypocrisy ; who scrupled not to let a murderer defile 
their sacred courts, whilst they denied entrance to 
him merely because he was a Gentile. He, however, 
forced his way forward, and having assured himself 
of the deed, punished the Jews by the imposition of 
a tax on every sacrifice they offered. 

When Artaxerxes Mnemon succeeded to the 
throne of Persia, he remitted the fine imposed by Ba- 
goses. But Ochus, his successor, being offended 
with the Jews, for having aided the Phenicians (as 
is supposed) with whom he was at war, marched 
into Judea, captured Jericho, and sent away part of 
the inhabitants into Egypt, and the remainder to the 
coasts of the Caspian sea. 


[a.a.c. 339.]— Jonathan died in the 18th year of 
Ochus, and was succeeded by his son Jaddua ; dur- 
ing whose pontificate Alexander the Great wrested 
the empire of Persia from Darius Codomannus, who 
had become its sovereign. Whilst Alexander was 
pursuing his victorious career, the Jews fell under 
his displeasure for assisting the Tyrians with sup- 
plies, whom he was besieging; and he marched upon 
Jerusalem for the purpose of taking vengeance upon 
the inhabitants. Jaddua, hearing of his approach, 
proclaimed a fast ; during the observance of which 
he was directed in a vision to go in his pontifical robes 
at the head of the priests and meet the conqueror. 
They accordingly went forth in procession, accom- 
panied by a multitude of the people attired in white ; 
and Alexander no sooner beheld the pontiff, than he 
was struck with awe, and offered him religious ado- 
ration. Both Greeks and Jews marvelled at his con- 
duct ; and on his friend Parmenio inquiring of him 
the reason of it, he declared that he had had a re- 
markable dream at Dios, in which a man, who re- 
sembled the high priest both in person and habili- 
ments, promised him the conquest of Persia, and 
encouraged him to undertake it. He now entered 
Jerusalem as a friend, offered sacrifice to the God 
of Israel, and having promised to Jaddua any pri- 
vileges which he might demand for his countrymen, 
he only required that they should enjoy complete 
religious toleration, be governed by their own laws, 
and be exempted from tribute every seventh year, 
when forbidden to till their land;— a proof that the 
septennary Sabbaths were now observed. 1 

\ Jaddua is said to have shown Alexander at this time the pro- 
phecy of Daniel concerning the rough goat of Grecia, which he applied 


Alexander invited the Jews to enlist in his army ; 
upon which many, heedless of the peculiar tempta- 
tions and difficulties to which they, as Jews, would 
become exposed, suffered themselves to be enrolled : 
but being soon after called upon to assist with the 
other troops in rebuilding the temple of Belus at 
Babylon, (which city Alexander had made his head- 
quarters,) and refusing to comply, they were ordered 
to be compelled by tortures. They endured them 
however with exemplary fortitude, preferring death 
rather than to defile their conscience,— a proof that 
they had at length attained to juster views of the 
evil of idolatry, and were unacquainted with the 
modern latitudinarian sophistry, which discerns no 
evil in giving countenance by military service to the 
abominations of heathenism or of superstition. Alex- 
ander was struck with their invincible constancy to 
their religion, and pardoned the remainder; but dis- 
missed them from his army. He likewise ordered 
numerous victims to be offered to the God of the 
Jews on his own behalf. 

The Samaritans, observing the great favour shewn 
toward the Jews, petitioned Alexander to grant them 
the like immunities, on the ground that they also 
were Hebrews. Their claim was deferred, to allow 
opportunity for .inquiry ; on which the Samaritans, 
sensible that investigation of their claim was virtu- 

to this prince. In the History of the Jews, contained in the Family 
Library, the whole is treated as a romantic fiction. The learned 
author however admits, that Alexander transplanted 100,000 Jews to 
his new colony in Egypt, and bestowed on them equal privileges 
and immunities with the Macedonians j and it is difficult to account 
for this extraordinary distinction of the Jews above all other people, 
but on the ground of some such fact. The account is contained in 
Josephus, derived from authorities which are since lost. 


ally a rejection of it, and unable to endure the morti- 
fication, set fire to the house of Andromachus, Alex- 
ander's governor, who perished in the flames. This 
so enraged Alexander, that he put to death all who 
were immediately implicated in the tumult, expelled 
the rest of the inhabitants from Samaria, and planted 
a colony of Macedonians in their room. 1 The Sama- 
ritans upon this retired to Shechem, a city at the foot 
of Mount Gerizim, which they enlarged, and ren- 
dered it their metropolis, whence the Jews called 
them also Shechemites. 2 

[a.a.c. 329— 322.]— Shortly after this Alexander 
entirely vanquished Darius, and put an end to the 
Persian empire ; and six years afterwards died him- 
self at Babylon. It is unnecessary for the purposes 
of this history to describe all the various divisions 
and changes, by which his empire was scattered, after 
his death, through the contentions of his generals : it 
may suffice to observe, that, in the division, Palestine, 
which fell at first to the share of Laomedon, was 
wrested from him by Ptolemy, who became possessed 
also of Egypt, Lybia, and Arabia ; and that Syria, 
Armenia, and the countries beyond the Euphrates, 
fell to Seleucus. Between these two powers there 
was frequent warfare ; and as Palestine lay between 
their dominions, their quarrels became a source of 
as frequent annoyance to the Jews. 

[a.a.c. 321— 291.]— After the death of Jaddua, his 
son Onias having succeeded to the pontificate, the 
Jews drew on themselves the hostility of Ptolemy, 
because, from a scrupulous sense of their oath of al- 

1 Quint. Curt, lib.iv. c. 8. 21. Euseb. Chron. 177. 
2 The modern Jews call them O^ VTO Couthiim, i.e. Cutheans ; 
and Josephus observes also that ^afiapetrat h the Greek name of those 
whom the Jews call XovOatoi. 


legiance to Laomedon, they remained faithful to his 
interests ; — a fact which shews, together with what 
has just been related of them in regard to the temple 
of Belus, that there were at this period some rays of 
light emitted from them among the Gentiles. There 
had however grown up among them, since the return 
from Babylon, a strong tendency to carry their prin- 
ciples to a fanatical extreme ; which was especially 
evinced in regard to the observance of the Sabbath 
rest. For Ptolemy besieged Jerusalem, and hap- 
pening to make an assault upon them on that day, 
they held it unlawful to defend themselves, (though 
self-defence, if it be lawful on any other day, must 
needs be a justifiable work of necessity on the Sab- 
bath,) and they consequently became an easy prey 
to the assailant. Ptolemy punished them severely, 
carrying away 100,000 captives into Egypt, and large 
numbers also into Lybia and Cyrene ; which shews 
how considerably they had multiplied since the time 
of Nehemiah. 

Though God gave no countenance to their fanati- 
cism, in regard to their refusal to fight on the Sabbath, 
but invariably, upon such occasions, delivered them 
into the hands of their enemies ; yet, when a sound 
principle was concerned, he honoured their readi- 
ness to suffer for it. For when Ptolemy's anger had 
subsided, and he came to reflect, he more justly appre- 
ciated their loyalty to Laomedon; and comparing their 
just sense of the sanctity of an oath with the deception 
and recklessness of truth so prevalent among other 
nations, he concluded that they would prove valu- 
able subjects to himself, if he could but bind them to 
his own interests in like manner. He therefore con- 
ferred upon them the same privileges which Alex- 


ander had done, and then exacted from them an oath 
of allegiance; and finding his account in their fidelity, 
he raised a corps of 30,000 Jews, entrusted several 
important fortresses to their keeping, and at length 
placed unbounded confidence in them. 

Soon after this Palestine again became the theatre 
of war, owing to a sharp struggle between Ptolemy, 
Seieucus, and Antigonus, another of Alexander's 
generals who was now in the field ; which terminated 
by Seieucus becoming the possessor of Palestine. At 
first he made the Jews pay an annual tribute for the 
privileges they required ; but finding that the advan- 
tages they enjoyed in Egypt caused a continual cur- 
rent of emigration to flow in that direction, he also 
changed his policy toward them, and, imitating the 
liberality of Ptolemy, granted to them the same im- 
munities in their own land. By the like means he 
encouraged them to settle in those cities of Asia 
Minor, which he had previously colonized with 
Greeks ; l and thus in both directions a voluntary dis- 
persion of the Jews was gradually taking place. But 
Seieucus dying soon after, Ptolemy again obtained 
possession of Palestine, and in a spirit of rivalry 
courted the favour of the Jews with a larger liberality 
than ever ; whilst they rendered to him various es- 
sential services in return. 

These circumstances caused the Jews to be much 
more extensively known among the Greeks ; and 
however they came to be despised by the Gentiles at 

i Appianus in Syriacis ; and Euseb. Chron.— Here it may be men- 
tioned that the era of the Seleucidce commenced after the conquest of 
Babylon by Seieucus, a.a.c. 312. The Jews afterwards adopted and 
continued to use this era until a. d. 1040, when, being expelled from 
Asia by the Caliphs, they began to date from the Creation; though not 
entirely dropping the era of the Seleucidse. 


a later period, (which arose from their moral char- 
acter haying then become lamentably debased,) they 
were now held in great estimation for wisdom and 
virtue ; and it is highly probable that those glim- 
merings of the knowledge of the true God and of 
correct philosophy, which are found in the writings 
of the Greeks, were derived from their intercourse 
and friendship with the Jews, which grew up subse- 
quent to the time of Alexander the Great. 1 

But wheresoever the Jews might be located, and 
however highly esteemed, they did not forget their 
native land ; but sent their contributions annually to 
Jerusalem, for the support of the temple, priests, and 
Levites ; the latter of whom do not appear to have 
been endowed with any cities or territorial posses- 
sions after the captivity. 

Onias had been succeeded, in the course of these 
events, by his son Simon, surnamed ' the Just/ who 
continued to enjoy the priesthood for about nine 
years, and died soon after Ptolemy recovered Pales- 
tine. He became eminent for his piety and learning, 
and greatly promoted, during bis pontificate, the reli- 
gious welfare of the Jews. By him schools were 
founded in many places, and the canon of inspired 
writ further determined and completed, according to 
the form and number of books now preserved and 
acknowledged by the Jews. 2 He had a learned and 

1 See the testimony of Clearchus and Hecatseus in Josephus, Cont. 
Appion. i. 22 -, ii. 4. Strabo states that the Grecian sages and philo- 
sophers held the Jews in great esteem ; (lib. xvi.) and Justin Martyr 
and Clemens Alexandrinus affirm, that they learnt much of their doc- 
trine from them. 

2 It is generally supposed that it was in the time of Simon that 
the Septuagint, or Greek version of the scriptures, was first com- 
menced ; though afterwards completed in the reign of Ptolemy Phila- 


pious coadjutor in Antigonus Sochaeus ; who greatly 
promoted the diligent study and investigation of 
the scriptures, and was followed by a multitude of 

[a.a.c. 292— 222.]— On the death of Simon, his son 
Onias being only an infant, Eleazar, the brother of 
Simon was made high priest ; and again at his death, 
Onias being still under age, his great uncle, named 
Manasseh, was preferred to the office, and held it, to 
the mortification of Onias, during twenty-six years 
more. At length Onias II. succeeded, at the age of 
forty-two years ; but greatly disappointed the expec- 
tations entertained of him, as the son of Simon the 
Just; and by his excessive and unscrupulous avarice 
had well nigh brought the nation into great affliction. 
The Jews were now paying to the Greek princes of 
Egypt little more than a nominal tribute, amounting 
only to twenty silver talents annually ; which sum, 
after it was collected, was first paid over to the high 
priest. Onias, however, instead of remitting it, had 
regularly consigned it to his own coffers ; and Ptolemy 
Euergetes (who had now succeeded Ptolemy Phila- 

delphus, the successor of Ptolemy Soter. The Jews have indulged 
in numerous palpable fictions concerning the origin and progress of 
this work : the most probable of all the conjectures respecting it is, 
that as, in the time of Ezra, the circumstance of the Jews having be- 
come more familiar with the dialect of Babylonia than with Hebrew, 
called forth the Chaldee paraphrase j so now a version was under- 
taken in the Greek tongue for the benefit of that multitude of Jews, 
who were at this period dwelling among the Greeks, and adopting 
their language in the various cities of Egypt, Syria and Asia Minor ; 
and that the king of Egypt, who was then founding a vast library, was 
presented with a copy of it, and possibly promoted the translation 
with his money. Its being brought to its completion under the care of 
the Jewish Sanhedrin, or council of Seventy, and published with their 
authority and sanction, (as we know was the case,) will sufficiently 
account for the name of Septuagint, or version of the Seventy, which it 
has obtained. 


delphus, and pursued the same friendly policy toward 
the Jews,) had for several years remonstrated in vain. 
Euergetes at length resolved to convince the Jews 
that he would not be trifled with ; and sent an officer 
peremptorily to demand the arrears, (now amounting 
to 480 talents,) and to declare that if the money were 
not immediately paid, they should be expelled from 
their country. Onias however was inflexible, and 
determined to resign his dignity rather than his 
money ; and the Jews were consequently thrown into 
a state of great perplexity and alarm. They were 
delivered out of it, however, by the dexterity and ad- 
dress of Joseph, a nephew of Onias, who finding ex- 
postulation and rebuke thrown away upon his uncle, 
proceeded to the Egyptian court; and having bor- 
rowed large sums of money, for the twofold purpose 
of making presents and an imposing figure, he con- 
trived so to ingratiate himself with the king, that he 
returned in the capacity of collector of the revenue 
for Judea, Samaria, Phoenicia, and Coele-Syria, hav- 
ing under his command 2000 soldiers. He soon paid 
the required sum ; and being afterwards punctual in 
his remittances beyond all precedent, he was conti- 
nued in his lucrative office and his son after him. 
Onias died at an advanced age, and was succeeded 
by his son, Simon the second, a more worthy and 
pious descendant of his grandfather. 

The long season of quiet, which had now been 
enjoyed by the Jews, had afforded opportunity for 
various rank weeds to spring up and luxuriate among 
them, the evil fruits of which were becoming mani- 
fest in the degeneracy of the national morals. 
Properly, however, to understand their condition, 
some account must here be given of the sects and 



parties, which were in existence at the period at 
which we are now arrived, and of their origin. 

The zeal which was manifested for the Law in 
the time of Ezra was not without alloy. It soon 
grew weary of adhering to the simple text and ob- 
vious sense of scripture ; and the commentaries 
which followed, besides being tinged with the orien- 
tal philosophy, were presently distinguished by a tri- 
lling and pernicious system, called Cabbala, which, 
overlooking the weightier matters of the Law, amused 
itself with attaching to words and letters a mystical 
signification and numerical power, whereby any mean- 
ing was extracted from holy writ which ingenuity 
or fraudulence could devise. 1 A pretence was like- 
wise set up, that many things were taught of God 
to Moses, which, though not written in the Law, had 
been handed down by tradition ; and although such 
a pretence on the part of the scribes and teachers, 

1 These commentaries were called Targums ; tfcte most ancient of 
which in existence are that of Onkelos on the Law, and Jonathan ben 
Uzziel on the Prophets • The former is referred by eminent critics to 
the beginning of the first century of Christianity. A Cabbalistic Trea- 
tise called Zohar, or Brightness, is also said by the Jews to have been 
compiled by Rabbi Simon ben Jochai in the same century. The Rev. 
J. Nicolayson, a learned missionary to the Jews in the East, disputes 
this, on the ground that it contains modern terms (such as Burgher, 
and other names of office,) but admits that these are probably interpo- 
lations of a later date ; whilst the passages which favour the Christian 
interpretation of holy writ must, he thinks,be of an antiquity exceeding 
that of the first compilation itself. (Jewish Intell. 1835, p. 212.) Buxtorf 
questions its authenticity altogether as a Jewish work, on the ground 
of the Christianized tone of many of its passages j but this is in reality 
the strongest evidence in favour of its authenticity. For the Jews, 
after the time of Christ, would never have received such a work from 
a suspicious quarter : neither would they continue to venerate it, as 
they now do, notwithstanding they are aware of its tendency to pre- 
pare the mind for the dogmas of Christianity, were they not persuaded 
of its genuineness. The probability therefore is, that the work really 
contains the opinions of the purer Cabbalistic Jews of the age pre- 
vious to the advent of Messiah. 


opened so wide a door to imposition, the alleged 
traditions were nevertheless regarded by many with 
a profound veneration, and received as of equal 
authority with the written word. The invention of 
the teachers of this oral law was of itself sufficiently 
productive; but not satisfied with this, commenta- 
ries were again put forth upon the traditions, 1 and 
came at length to be regarded with even greater de- 
ference than the law or the traditions themselves. 

Those who professed to teach the oral law were 
called Tanaim, or Traditionists. From out of these, 
and from those called Chasidim, or saints, from their 
professing a superior holiness, arose the sect of the 
Pharisees. 2 Their founder is not known ; but as they 
affected a peculiar sanctity, it is not improbable that 
he was a man of devout spirit; but it is the tendency, 
as experience has shown, of all sects which profess 
to be wise above what is written, and to claim for 
themselves an exclusive measure of holiness, speed- 
ily to degenerate into formality, hypocrisy, fana- 
ticism, and superstition. Thus the Pharisees, whilst 
they kept aloof from heathen idols, were nevertheless 
intellectually idolaters of the letter of the law ; and 

1 In a later age the unwritten law was collected and published to- 
gether in one large work, called the Mischna. At ct period still 
later the commentaries of the Rabbins were also collected, forming a 
work of still larger bulk, called Gemara. The two together constitute 
the Talmud. But there are two Talmuds ; one containing the com- 
mentaries of the Rabbins of Palestine, called the Jerusalem Talmud ; 
the other containing the commentaries of the Rabbins of the East, 
called the Babylonian Talmud. It has been thought that these tradi- 
tions and commentaries were not written at all previous to these 
works appearing ; but it is not likely that the memory could have re- 
tained so cumbrous a load of rubbish. 

2 The name is somewhat similar in meaning with that of Cliasidim, 
being derived from a Hebrew word signifying the separated, or set 
apart, — i. e. from what was unholy or common. The word Chasidim 
(D^I^Drt) is translated Assideans in l Mac. ii. 42, and 2 Mac. xiv. 6. 

Y 2 


though scrupulous beyond what was prescribed, 
in their observance of the external rest of the sab- 
bath, they lost sight of the spiritual worship and 
glory due to God, and of his beneficent design in 
appointing the sabbath for man. Pretending also, by 
their additions to the law, to a greater zeal for right- 
eousness, they encouraged themselves from those tra- 
ditions, in adultery, (divorcing their wives for the 
most trifling offences,) in covetousness, in vindic- 
tiveness, and other transgressions of the Mosaical 
precepts. Yet had they many followers : for human 
nature is not indisposed to that religion, which at the 
same time flatters its pride, by voluntary self-denial 
and will-worship, and gratifies its sensuality and 
worldliness by indulgence. 

In the mean while the doctrines and proceedings 
of the pharisaical sects were not without opponents. 
A party arose called Zadikim, who distinguished 
themselves by their regard for the genuine Law, and 
rejected the vagaries of the traditionists and com- 
mentators. But among these also fallen humanity 
betrayed the same tendency to carry matters to ex- 
treme, and an ultra zeal against tradition was the 
consequence, which led many at length to reject all 
of the canonical books of scripture, except the Pen- 
tateuch or five books of Moses. This section of 
the Zadikim formed the Sadducees, as they were sub- 
sequently called. 1 Having rejected a large portion 
of God's word, they did not afterwards hesitate to 
deny the doctrines of a resurrection and future state 

i Their name has been supposed to be derived from one Sadoc or 
Zadok, a disciple of Antigonus Sochaeus ; but it is far more probable 
that the term SadduMm is no more than a corrupt pronunciation of 
Zadikim or Tsadikim, (D>p*T^) as Epiphanius declares, c. xiv. 


of reward or punishment, (points which are not so 
expressly revealed in the Pentateuch ;) and pro- 
ceeded, even farther, to deny the existence of angels 
and spirits, and the exercise of a particular provi- 
dence, tenets which are plainly to be derived thence. 
The Pharisees however maintained these, and all 
other orthodox tenets ; although they often neutral- 
ized them by their traditions, or distorted them by no- 
tions drawn from the Persian demonology. 

The Karaite Jews have been confounded with the 
Sadducees ; but this is an injustice done to the 
former, and proceeds from the malice of the modern 
Rabbinical Jews. The Karaites now in existence 
abhor the doctrines held by the Sadducees. They 
more probably were that portion of the Zadikim, who 
kept themselves free from the inventions of the Tra- 
ditionists, on the one hand, and from the contradic- 
tions of the Sadducees on the other ; and constituted 
the small, but really orthodox, portion of the Jewish 
people. They did not indeed altogether reject tradi- 
tion ; but they denied to it equal authority with holy 
writ. 1 We shall have occasion to speak hereafter of 
this remarkable people ; and also of the Essenes, an- 
other sect, which, even if it arose during the preced- 
ing period, made as yet no figure in Jewish history. 

Another important characteristic of the present 
period remains to be noticed, which distinguished 
between the Pharisees and the Sadducees : viz. the 
contempt which the former entertained for their hea- 
then protectors ; and, on the contrary, the inclination 
among the latter for Greek customs. For the less 

1 Their name Q^S*1p signifies Scriptuarii or Texluarii; which 
the modern Karaites say was originally given to them as a term of 
reproach. (Prideaux, Con. vol. ii. p. 388.) 


pious of the Sadducees, from the natural tendency 
of their principles, fell into great laxity and indif- 
ference with respect to the rigors of the law ; and by 
latitudinarian sentiments were gradually preparing 
the mass of the nation for a relapse into idolatry. 
In power and numbers the Pharisees were at present 
the smaller party, and their adherents were chiefly 
to be found among the poorer classes. The Saddu- 
cees were followed by the more wealthy, who had 
intercourse with the officers of the Greek troops in 
the garrisoned cities of Palestine, and with the edu- 
cated of that nation in foreign cities; and to this 
section of the Sadducees were inclined, though not 
avowedly identified with them, that large class, of all 
ranks and denominations, who cared not for religion 
at all, or were impatient of its restrictions. 

Such was the state of the nation at the present 
time ; and God was preparing for its correction. One 
storm had already threatened them, through the ava- 
rice of Onias: a second now unexpectedly arose, 
which plunged them into circumstances of far greater 
trial and danger than the former. 

[a.a.c. 221.]— Ptolemy Philopater had succeeded to 
the throne of Egypt, between whom and Antiochus, 
the king of Syria, a struggle ensued for the sove- 
reignty of Coele-Syria, whereby Palestine again 
became the theatre of war. Philopater took the 
field in person, and came off victorious ; on which 
the Jews, who had remained firm to his interests, 
sent embassies from their cities to congratulate him. 
Philopater, in return, paid them a complimentary 
visit at Jerusalem, and offered numerous sacrifices 
on the altar of Jehovah. Alexander and Euergetes 
had done the same before him ; and many heathen 


princes afterwards imitated their example : but this 
arose from no real conversion to the Jews' religion, 
nor from any proper knowledge of the only true God ; 
but either from worldly policy, or from that excess 
of superstition which commonly induced the heathen 
to do homage at the shrine of any deity, whose favour 
they deemed likely to be useful. 

The festivity, however, occasioned by the visit of 
Philopater, was speedily changed into lamentations. 
For a great desire was excited in the king to inspect 
the interior of the temple ; and the representation of 
Simon to him, that not only foreigners, but even Jews 
themselves were excluded from it, unless they were 
priests, only inflamed his curiosity the more. He 
forced his way through the courts of the temple into 
the edifice ; but just as he was about to enter into the 
inner sanctuary, he was seized with a panic terror, 
which paralysed him, and he was carried out half 
dead by his attendants. On being recovered out of 
it, he fell into a paroxysm of rage, and quitted Jeru- 
salem with denunciations of vengeance against the 
whole Jewish race. 

The Jews of Alexandria felt the first effects of his 
resentment. By way of retaliation, he published a 
decree, upon his return home, forbidding all persons 
to enter into his palace who did not sacrifice to the 
gods whom he worshipped ; whereby the Jews were 
prevented from approaching his tribunal, either to 
obtain justice or favour. Finding that they patiently 
submitted to this, he next ordered all the Jews to be 
branded with an ivy leaf, the mark of his god Bac- 
chus ; after which he commanded that all who re- 
fused to be initiated in the rites of Bacchus, and 
actually to worship him, should be degraded from 


the first to the lowest class of citizens, with the con- 
sequent loss of all their privileges. To the honor of 
the Jews, only about three hundred, out of many 
thousands of their race in Alexandria, complied with 
the idolatrous alternative; and these were imme- 
diately excommunicated by the rest, and held in 
general abhorrence. 

Exasperated at their firmness, Philopater now re- 
solved to exterminate them all ; to effect which hor- 
rible purpose, he caused the Jews throughout Egypt 
to be brought in chains to Alexandria, and there, 
together with their brethren of the city, to be shut up 
in the Hippodrome, (a large space enclosed for horse- 
racing and other public sports,) intending to expose 
them to be trodden under foot by elephants. On the 
day appointed, an immense concourse of spectators 
assembled to witness the tragedy ; but the king, who 
was a eealous votary of his god, having drunk to ex- 
cess the night before, disappointed the multitude, 
and the Jews were thus reprieved till the next 
day. Another night of dissipation produced an- 
other day of respite; during which the Jews united 
in continual prayer and supplication to the Almighty. 
Nor did they petition him in vain. The king was 
sober enough to attend on the third day ; when the 
elephants, previously made infuriate with wine and 
frankincense, attacked the spectators instead of the 
Jews, destroyed great numbers of them before they 
could be secured, whilst the king and his attendants 
fled terrified away. 

Philopater was fully convinced that the inter- 
position was of God ; and dreading the further ven- 
geance of heaven, he immediately liberated the Jews, 
rescinded his decrees against them, and not only re- 


stored them to their former privileges, but gave them 
others in addition. He likewise permitted them to 
deal with their apostate brethren as they pleased; 
which license they sternly availed themselves of, by 
putting the whole three hundred to death. In com- 
memoration of this deliverance the Jews of Alexan- 
dria erected a pillar, and instituted a festival, which 
was observed for centuries after. 

[a.a.c. 204 — 170.] — This cloud having likewise 
passed away, the firmament was presently overspread 
by others still more terrific. Philopater dying, left 
an infant son, named Epiphanes ; and Antiochus the 
Great, who was then king of Syria, took advantage 
of the opportunity to invade* Palestine. The Jews, 
either disgusted with the Ptolemies on account of the 
recent atrocities in Egypt, and the previous profana- 
tion of their temple, or coveting the superior advan- 
tages enjoyed by their brethren of Mesopotamia 
under the protection of Antiochus, cordially received 
him into their cities, and helped him to expel the 
Egyptian troops. Their desertion of their former 
patrons seemed at first to be rewarded. Antiochus 
gave out that it was his intention to restore Jerusalem 
to its ancient splendor and privileges ; and indeed 
took measures which proved him to be sincere. He 
granted exemption from taxes to all Jews, who within 
a limited period should take up their abode in Jeru- 
salem ; and emancipated the Jewish slaves through- 
out his dominions. He undertook also to repair the 
temple at his own cost, and granted an annual sub- 
sidy for sacrifices and oblations. 

But this gleam of sunshine was but of short dura- 
tion. The youthful Ptolemy Epiphanes, having 
placed himself under the protection of Rome, which 

330 history of the; jews : 

power was now rapidly advancing toward the empire 
of the world, the senate imperiously ordered Anti- 
ochus to restore all the countries he had wrested from 
him ; which he refusing to do, they declared war 
against him; and Antiochus, though aided by An- 
nibal, the famous Carthaginian general, was shorn of 
his possessions in Europe, and his power and re- 
sources were otherwise so greatly diminished, that 
he was unable to fulfil his munificent intentions to- 
ward the Jews. This first taste of Roman interfer- 
ence would not favourably impress them toward that 

Simon II. died about three years after these events, 
and was succeeded by dnias III ; in the eighth year 
of whose pontificate Antiochus was killed by the in- 
habitants of Elymais, who were enraged against him 
for having plundered the temple of Jupiter Belus in 
their city, in order to enable him to pay the tribute 
imposed upon him by the Romans. 

His son, Seleucus IV. stimulated by the same ne- 
cessity and example, cast his eye upon the larger 
treasures of the temple at Jerusalem; of which he 
was secretly informed, and of the facility of seizing 
them, by the governor of the temple, a miscreant 
named Simon, who having had a quarrel with the 
high priest, in which he found himself to be in the 
wrong, took this malignant and treasonable method 
of gratifying his revenge. Seleucus despatched an 
officer, named Heliodorus, with a military force, for 
the purpose of seizing them ; who, dissembling the 
real object of his mission, was received with every 
token of respect ; but having at length inquired of 
the high priest particularly concerning the treasures, 
he privately communicated to him the orders of 


Seleucus, and, deaf to the remonstrances of Onias, 
appointed a day on which he should take possession. 
Jerusalem, in the meanwhile, was filled with con- 
sternation. The women, girt with sackcloth, ran 
wildly about the streets; and the priests and Levites, 
with the inhabitants in general, engaged in suppli- 
cation. Heliodorus proceeded to the temple at the 
time appointed, and forcing his way into the treasury 
with his guards, was there arrested by the vision of a 
divine personage seated on a white horse, which 
animal smote him down with his fore feet, whilst two 
other angelic beings scourged him. He was taken 
out by his soldiers, without having accomplished his 
object; and humbly besought the intercession of 
Onias, that his health might be restored. The latter 
complied, and his prayer was heard. The above 
story of the apparation is by some considered fabu- 
lous : it is difficult, however, if we reject it alto- 
gether, to account for the fact of Heliodorus failing 
in his mission. And that he actually was prevented 
in the manner related, either through stratagem or 
miracle, seems to be confirmed by the testimony of 
the traitor Simon, who afterwards accused Onias of 
being the person who betrayed the knowledge of this 
treasure to Heliodorus, and of having then got up this 
imposture in order to counteract the evil conse- 
quences of his own garrulity. 1 The faction of Simon 
at all events gave credit to this report; and party 
spirit ran so high, that they came to blows with the 
friends of Onias, and many were killed on both sides. 
On this Onias repaired to Seleucus, and having 
laid before him the whole affair, the infamous Simon 
was banished from Judea. 

l 2 Mac. iii. iv. 


Onias however was destined to see another, more 
wicked and unprincipled even than Simon, rise up 
to trouble both the nation and himself: this was no 
other than his own brother, Joshua. Seleucus dying 
soon after was succeeded by Antiochus Epiphanes ; 
on which Joshua repaired to Antioch, and changing 
his name to Jason, out of compliment to the Greeks, 
privately made Antiochus an offer of 350 talents, if 
he would depose his brother Onias from his office, 
and appoint him in his place. Insulting as the scan- 
dalous proposal was to Antiochus, Jason appears 
nevertheless to have correctly estimated his prin- 
ciples : for he succeeded in procuring the pontificate, 
as also the banishment of Onias to Antioch ; the 
effect of whose character and popularity he dreaded, 
if he were permitted to continue at Jerusalem. 

On his return to Jerusalem, Jason, who was immo- 
derately fond of Grecian customs, immediately began 
to introduce them among the Jews. He erected a 
Gymnasium for public sports and exercises ; founded 
a college in which the youth were educated in the 
Grecian literature and manners ; and procured from 
Antiochus the power of rewarding those, who distin- 
guished themselves, with the freedom of Antioch. He 
sent some of these graduates in the following year to 
the Olympic games ; and in order to propitiate the 
Greeks by a still further display of Jewish latitudin- 
arianism, he furnished them with money for offerings 
to the Tyrian Hercules. The young disciples, how- 
ever, not being yet sufficiently prepared for so de- 
cided an act of idolatry, presented the money instead 
toward the expenses of repairing the Tyrian navy. 
But the defection from Jewish principles was not 
confined to the youth ; numbers who were indifferent 


to religion, and lovers of pleasures more than lovers 
of God, gave countenance to the innovations of the 
liberal usurper ; many even among the priests be- 
came of his party, and preferred the exercises of the 
circus to the services of the Lord's courts. 

But Jason had a younger brother, called Mene- 
laus, who having followed his example in assuming 
a Greek name, was emulous also of surpassing him 
in profligacy ; and being sent by Jason with the usual 
tribute to the king, he boldly offered to Antiochus 
double the sum given to him by his brother, if he 
would again act the deposer, and confer the priest- 
hood upon him. The shameless tyrant acceded to 
his request, and Menelaus returned to Jerusalem 
armed with the king's commission ; but finding the 
adherents of Jason indisposed toward himself, he re- 
traced his steps to Antioch, and informed the king, 
that he and his followers had now come to the reso- 
lution of conforming altogether to the Greek religion. 
Flattered by this assurance Antiochus gave him a 
military escort ; before which Jason and his imme- 
diate adherents thought it prudent to retire, and took 
refuge among the Ammonites. 

Menelaus immediately proceeded to fulfil his pro- 
mise to Antiochus, by establishing the idolatrous 
worship of the Syrians ; in which he was cordially 
assisted by the Greek party, whilst a large proportion 
of the people looked on with comparative indiffer- 
ence. This was not the case however with all: 
though obliged at present to cower before the storm, 
yet the more virtuous of the Zadikim, and the Pha- 
risees generally, viewed these proceedings with grief 
and indignation ; which in the end greatly tended to 
increase the influence of the rabbins, and to diminish 


that of the priests. For the great teachers of the 
law and of the traditions were not at this time con- 
fined to the priesthood, neither to the Levites; and 
now that the more reflecting part of the nation wit- 
nessed the corruption of manners betrayed by the 
priests in general, and the venal and scandalous 
means by which the pontiffs obtained their dignity, 
they transferred their confidence and veneration to 
the apparently devout and certainly more zealous ad- 
vocates of Judaism. By this means also the worship 
of the synagogue spread itself more over the country, 
and gradually came under the control of the scribes 
and doctors of the law ; x whilst those of the teachers 
who claimed to be depositaries and interpreters of 
the oral traditions, acquired an immense influence 
over the minds of their hearers, — to whom they be- 
came the casuists and confessors, and their dictum 
was considered equally authoritative as the law. 
Menelaus soon got into difficulty. For having 

l These circumstances confirm the observations made in a former 
note, (p. 181.) on the licence afforded in regard to the prophetical 
office ; for the functions of prophet and teacher were so identified, 
that teaching is not unfrequently called prophesying, (l Cor. xi — xiv.) 
It also accounts for the fact of our Lord being permitted to preach in 
the synagogues and in the temple ; which would have been illegal, 
and certainly would have been prevented, had it been a function be- 
longing only to the priests or Levites. Psalm lxx. 8 shows that 
synagogues existed previous to the captivity : but at that time pro- 
bably the service in them was confined simply to the reading of the 
Law j according to the observation of the Apostle James, "that 
Moses of old time hath, in every city, them that preach him, being read 
in the synagogues every Sabbath day. 1 ' (Acts xv. 2l.) Wherever ten 
worshippers were found, there a synagogue might be formed ; but not 
with a less number : for they had a tradition concerning the divine 
presence, that if less were assembled God exclaimed, " Wherefore 
come I, and nobody here." Our Lord probably had this restriction 
in view, when he made that encouraging promise, " that wheresoever 
two or three only should be gathered together in his name, there 
would he be present in the midst of them." 


neglected to pay the tribute, he was summoned to 
Antioch to explain; and from thence he wrote to 
another brother, Lysimachus, whom he had left in 
charge of his affairs at Jerusalem, to forward to him 
some of the golden vessels of the temple ; by the sale 
of which he paid his arrears, and had a large surplus 
remaining. But the transaction coming to the know- 
ledge of the banished Onias,who resided at Antioch, 
he denounced it to the other Jews, who one and 
all reprobated the sacrilege. In order to avert the 
danger which threatened him, Meneiaus, in the ab- 
sence of Antiochus, applied to his viceroy, Andro- 
nicus, and by bribery induced him privately to 
murder the upright but unfortunate Onias. The 
baseness and treachery of this act excited gene- 
ral abhorrence, both among the Syrians and Jews ; 
by which even Antiochus himself was so much af- 
fected, that on his return to his capital, he caused 
Andronicus to be stripped of the purple, and put to 
death, with every mark of infamy, on the spot where 
the bloody deed had been perpetrated. But it was a 
solitary impulse of virtuous indignation in the king. 
The turn of Meneiaus came, and he was called on to 
defend himself; and seeing no chance of escape 
from his perilous situation but by bribery and in- 
trigue, he wrote to Lysimachus for another supply of 
gold ; and he, being on this occasion more jealously 
w w atched, was surprised by the inhabitants of Jeru- 
salem, whilst engaged in packing up a second freight 
of valuables, and notwithstanding he was surrounded 
by soldiers, was slain in the treasury. At the time 
appointed for the trial of Meneiaus, the Jews deputed 
three of the most respectable members of their San- 
hedrim to repair to Tyre, where the cause was heard, 


for the two-fold purpose of explaining the death of 
Lysimachus and of accusing Menelaus. The case 
was so clear on behalf of the deputies, that Menelaus 
was convicted ; but Antiochus, being at this crisis 
influenced by the promise of a bribe, tendered him 
through a favourite whom Menelaus had secured, 
was vile enough to reverse what he had done, and 
acquitting the guilty Menelaus, put the three inno- 
cent deputies to death. The Tyrians showed their 
sense of the result by giving to the bodies of the 
murdered delegates an honourable burial. 

.[a.a.c. 170.] — Upon the news of this tragedy reach- 
ing Jerusalem, consternation and despair Seized upon 
all who were well-wishers to their country. They 
saw how completely they were at the mercy of aban- 
doned tyrants, who regarded neither the principles 
of justice, nor the dictates of humanity, when their 
own selfish policy interfered. Nor were their ap- 
prehensions without foundation. A report soon after 
got abroad, that Antiochus, who was carrying on a 
warfare in Egypt, had fallen before the walls of Alex- 
andria. Upon its reaching the Ammonites, Jason, 
the first usurper of the pontificate, conceiving it a 
favourable opportunity for recovering the office, has- 
tened to Jerusalem with a thousand determined fol- 
lowers, and being joined by his adherents in the 
city, forced Menelaus to retire within the citadel. 
But hearing that Antiochus, instead of being dead, 
was advancing upon Jerusalem with an army, he 
again fled, and wandering from city to city, perished 
at last in unpitied wretchedness. 

In the meanwhile Antiochus heard the report of his 
own death, and having been informed that there had 
been demonstrations of joy among the Jews on the 


news of it, he came to Jerusalem in a state of furious 
exasperation ; and the gates being thrown open to 
him by the partisans of Menelaus, he gave up the 
city to three days* slaughter and pillage, during which 
forty thousand persons were massacred, and an equal 
number sold into slavery. The infamous Menelaus 
himself conducted him into the temple ; where he 
soon completed the plunder already commenced by 
the pontiff, and then departed for Antioch in triumph. 

Soon after this, having been sternly forbidden by 
the Romans to pursue further hostilities in Egypt, 
and this under circumstances exceedingly galling 
to his pride, the Jews experienced the effects of his 
mortification. He sent forward his general Apollo- 
nius with an army of 22,000 men, who, concealing 
his designs, and being quietly admitted into Jerusa- 
lem, remained inactive until the ensuing sabbath ; 
on which day, suddenly falling upon the Jews whilst 
engaged in worship or repose, he slew all whom he 
could find, and, seizing the women and children,. sold 
them into captivity. He next gave up the city again 
to pillage ; after which he set it on fire and broke 
down its walls. The temple, whether by design, or 
from its insulated situation, escaped the flames ; but 
Apollonius with the ruins of the city erected a large 
fortress, called Acra, upon an eminence which over- 
looked it; from whence if any were seen peeping 
forth from their hiding-places, or approaching the 
sacred precincts for devotion, they were immediately 
set upon and massacred. 

The rage of their persecutor was not yet satisfied, 
and in order that the Jews in the other parts of Pales- 
tine, and throughout his dominions, might feel the 
effects of it, he next year resolved entirely to sup- 


press their worship. For this purpose he issued a 
decree, requiring from all his subjects conformity to 
the Greek religion ; and commissioners were every- 
where appointed to see it carried into execution. 

Atheneas, a rancorous enemy of the Jews, and 
well acquainted with their customs, was the chief 
commissioner appointed for Judea. He commenced 
by dedicating the temple at Jerusalem to Jupiter 
Olympius, whose statue was erected on the altar of 
burnt- offering. On account of the command against 
swines' flesh, a great sow was offered up in sacrifice ; 
the flesh of which was boiled and the broth sprinkled 
about, in order to defile the temple in Jewish estima- 
tion. Altars and images were set up in the streets of 
Jerusalem and in the cities of Judea, at which the 
people were compelled to offer sacrifice of forbidden 
meats, or to suffer death. Circumcision was strictly 
forbidden, or any other observance of the Mosaic 
ritual. Some women who were discovered to have 
circumcised their infants were paraded about the 
city with their children suspended by the legs to 
their necks, and then thrown over the battlements of 
the castle. All the copies of the law were required 
to be given up, and were publicly burnt; and whoso- 
ever was detected in concealing one was put to death. 
To crown all, the feast of the Bacchanalia, the licen- 
tiousness and profligacy of which shocked even the 
Romans, was substituted for the feast of Taberna- 
cles; and the Jews were forced to join in it, and to 
wear the ivy. 

The Greek party not only conformed to these abo- 
minations, but malignantly informed against their 
countrymen who were recusant, and otherwise aided 
the commissioners ; which too clearly betrayed, that, 


behind the plausible pretexts, put forth to justify 
their earlier and less culpable innovations, there was a 
leaven of infidelity concealed, preparing them to rush 
into any extreme of irreligion. Of the others, how- 
ever, many preferred to suffer martyrdom, rather 
than the idolatrous tests ; the majority of 
whom withdrew to the caves and fastnesses of Judea, 
(the usual refuge of the nation in seasons of extre- 
mity,) and there in secret still worshipped the God 
of their fathers. A thousand of these were surprised 
by Philip, the governor of the province, in a large 
cavern near to Jerusalem, engaged in worship on the 
Sabbath day. More disposed to clemency than his 
fellows, he promised them life if they would apos- 
tatize; but emboldened, rather than intimidated, by 
the sense of danger, they assembled again on the fol- 
lowing Sabbath, and suffered themselves to be sur- 
rounded by Philip and cut to pieces. 

Antiochus, finding that many of the Jews still con- 
tinued firm, came himself to Jerusalem, for the pur- 
pose of directing the persecution with increased 
rigor* His first victim was Eleazar, a scribe of true 
piety, who had attained to the great age of ninety 
years, and by whose example many had been strength- 
ened to endure. He was brought forth upon a pub- 
lic stage, in order to be compelled to eat swine's 
flesh ; but though it was thrust into his mouth, he 
resolutely refused to swallow it. The soldiers who 
were about him, with a feeling of commiseration, 
suggested that he might eat publicly some other food 
of his own providing, and thus satisfy the king ; but 
the venerable martyr gave them meekly to under- 
stand, that the example to his brethren would be 
equally calculated to stumble them, and the dissimu- 


lation equally culpable before God ; upon which he 
was led away to execution, the soldiers, who before 
had pitied, now upbraiding him for pride and stub- 
bornness. He died declaring his fear of God, and 
his willingness to suffer for his name's sake. 

Another instance of suffering was the case of a 
respectable female and her seven sons, who were 
brought before the king himself, and in the presence 
of each other successively put to the torture, in order 
to induce them to apostatize. But they all died 
with great constancy, encouraging each other and 
exhorted by their mother, who was herself the last 
that suffered. The words put into the mouths of 
these martyrs by the author of the book of Macca- 
bees, whether actually spoken by them or not, serve 
to throw light upon the theology of the more scrip- 
tural Jews, and is of a satisfactory character. They 
acknowledged that the transgressions of their nation 
had justly provoked these sufferings ;— they ex- 
pressed their conviction that God had nevertheless 
not forsaken the nation, but would presently inter- 
pose and punish their persecutors ; — and that at all 
events he was king of the world, and would raise 
those who suffered for him to the enjoyment of a 
glorious resurrection hereafter. 1 

Of the other nations under the dominion of Anti- 
ochus, whose religious liberty was affected by his 
decree of conformity, the Persians and the Samari- 
tans were the principal. The former resisted, and 
gave Antiochus no little trouble. The Samaritans 
acted with their usual duplicity ; and although, in 
the time of Alexander, they had declared themselves 

i 2 Mac. vii. It is probable that it is to these martyrs among others 
that St. Paul alludes, Heb. xi. 35—38. 


Israelites, and of the same worship with the Jews, in 
order to obtain the same privileges ; they now sent 
deputies to assure Antiochus that they were Cu- 
theans, and of their readiness to dedicate their tem- 
ple on Mount Gerizim to Jupiter Xenius; which 
they accordingly did, These, and similar acts of 
baseness in that people, caused the animosity toward 
them, occasioned by their conduct on the return from 
Babylon, to settle down into an invincible antipathy, 
and gave rise to the following proverb among the 
Jews : " Two nations my heart abhorreth : they that 
sit upon the mountain of Samaria, and they that 
dwell among the Philistines." (Eccles. 1. 25.) 

[a.a.c. 167.] But the groans and the prayers of 
the true worshippers of God were not disregarded, 
and deliverance was now at hand. Proceeding in 
the execution of the king's decree, Apelles, one of 
his commissioners, arrived at Modin, (the modern 
Sobah,) a small town on an eminence near the sea 
coast, and the native place of an aged priest, named 
Mattathias, who had retired thither from the storm, 
together with his family. The inhabitants being as- 
sembled by Apelles, and required to conform to the 
Greek religion by sacrifice, a Jew stepped forward at 
his instigation in order to set the example. Moved 
by a zeal of God, Mattathias, like another Phineas, 
instantly struck him dead ; and his sons, at the same 
time attacking Apelles and bis followers, slew them 
all, and then pulled down the idolatrous altar. A 
little band of witnesses for God immediately gathered 
round the venerable leader, with whom, not deeming 
it prudent to remain in Modin, he retired to the de- 
serts, where a number of other Jews soon flocked to 
his standard. But a serious disaster damped their 


first proceedings. The troops of Antiochus pursuing, 
attacked a detachment of his little army on the sab- 
bath ; and their principles not allowing them to resist 
on that day, they were all massacred. Upon this 
Mattathias held a council, at which the propriety of 
defending themselves on the sabbath was discussed ; 
when perceiving that God had never interposed in 
their behalf when they refrained, they came to the 
determination, that though they would not attack on 
that day, they would stand upon the defensive. 

The first object of Mattathias and his followers was 
not so much the destruction of the Syrians, as the 
restoration of the worship of God and the punishment 
of the apostates. Wherever he fell upon a city, he 
put to death the leaders of the Greek faction, 1 pulled 
down the idolatrous altars and images, caused all the 
males to be circumcised, reopened the synagogues, 
and having recovered a few copies of the Law, he 
caused numerous transcripts to be made, with which 
the towns were supplied. By these proceedings he 
struck terror into his adversaries both Jewish and 
Syrian ; so that whichsoever way he turned, the cities 
opened their gates to him, or were speedily taken by 
assault. But the age and infirmities of Mattathias 
sank under the toils and excitement of the crisis ; 
and he died in the following year much lamented, 
and was buried with great solemnity in the sepulchre 
of his ancestors at Modin. 

On perceiving his departure to be at hand, and 
that his third son, Judas, had given indications of 
superior military skill and prudence, he nominated 

i It was probably at this time that another proverb obtained among 
the Jews,—" Cursed be he that eateth swine's flesh and teacheth his 
son Greek." 


him to succeed him in the command, enjoining his 
brethren to obey him, and to make God their fear. 
His elder brothers, Jonathan and Simon, in a spirit 
of disinterested patriotism and piety, willingly sub- 
mitted ; consequently Judas, afterwards called Mac- 
cabeus, assumed the command. 1 

From the funeral of his father Judas hastened with 
his forces, now amounting to 6000 men, to meet 
Apollonius, the king's general, who was advancing 
with a numerous army; and notwithstanding the 
superior numbers of the enemy, he immediately gave 
battle, entirely defeated and killed Apollonius, and 
captured all the military baggage and arms of the 
Syrians, — a supply which was specially needed at 
this juncture. This exploit was soon after followed 
by the defeat of Seron, the governor of Coele-Syria, 
who was also left dead upon the field of battle with 
800 of his troops. 

Antiochus was prevented himself from coming 
against the Jews, by the insurrection which his de- 
cree of conformity had caused among the Persians ; 
and considering his presence to be more urgently re- 
quired among them, he contented himself with de- 
puting a nobleman named Lysias to the government 
of Syria in his absence, directing him to take vigor- 
ous measures for the extermination of the Jews. 
Lysias drew together an army of 40,000 infantry and 
7000 cavalry, whom he placed under the command of 
three experienced officers, Nicanor, Ptolemy, and 
Gorgias, who advanced into the plains of Emmaus ; 

1 Some say he was so called from the Hebrew word *OpE which 
signifies ' the hammerer. * Others derive the name from the abbre- 
viated form of the motto adopted on his banner : Mi camo-ca Baalim 
Jehovah;—" Who is like unto Thee among the gods, O Jehovah ! " 
(Ex. xv. 11.) 


their numbers being increased as they proceeded, by 
various auxiliaries, and especially by apostate Jews. 
Judas, on hearing of their arrival, convened all his 
followers to Mizpeh, where they observed a solemn 
fast with supplication. Having given permission to 
those who had married or betrothed wives to depart, 
and also to the timid, numbers took advantage of it, 
until the force of Judas was reduced to 3000 men ; 
but with these, encouraging themselves in God, he 
boldly moved forward and took up a position on the 
south of Emmaus. On the following night Gorgias 
was detached with a body of 6000 horse and foot for 
the purpose of surprizing him ; but Judas, having 
gained intelligence of the movement, made a wide 
circuit, and passing the forces of Gorgias without 
being perceived, surprized the main body, who were 
lying securely in the plain, slew 3000 of them, and 
completely routed the whole. The next morning 
Gorgias, returning from his fruitless enterprize, with 
his men dispirited and weary, found to his dismay 
the army dispersed, the camp in flames, and the troops 
of Judas, who had been restrained both from pur- 
suit and plunder, drawn up in readiness to receive 
him ; upon which his men likewise took to flight. A 
large body of slave-dealers had followed the enemy's 
camp, in full confidence that the Jews must be de- 
feated, and that there would presently be numerous 
captives for sale. Judas took them all prisoners and 
sold them into slavery instead ; and having now de- 
spoiled the camp, and thereby acquired another sea- 
sonable supply of arms and treasure, he returned to 
Mizpeh, and observed a solemn thanksgiving. 

Anxious to wipe out the disgrace of this defeat, 
Lysias collected together the scattered forces of 


Nicanor, and having increased them to 65,000 men, 
himself took the field in the following year. Bnt he 
was completely overthrown at Bethsura by Judas 
(whose forces now amounted to 10,000 men) with the 
loss of five thousand in killed. 

As Lysias retired after this defeat to Antioch, Judas 
availed himself of the respite it afforded him to 
cleanse and repair the temple of Jerusalem. He 
rebuilt also the walls of the city, and having placed 
a strong garrison in it, in order to overawe the enemy 
in the fort of Acra, he finally re-opened the temple 
for the worship of God, three years after it had been 
profaned by Antioch us. This event was afterwards 
annually celebrated by a solemn festival. 1 

Antiochus, hearing of these serious disasters, has- 
tened out of Persia, raging like a wild beast, and 
vowing that he would make Judea one vast cemetery. 
He was taken ill however on the road, and died at a 
small town called Paretacene, his body having been 
afflicted by a painful and offensive ulcer, which bred 
worms ; and his mind being agitated by remorse — for 
his outrages on the Persian temples, says Polybius ; 
— for his horrible barbarities and sacrilege in Judea, 
say the authors of the Books of the Maccabees. 

[a.a.c. 164.] The surrounding nations and cities 
were irritated against the Jews, on account of the 
number of relatives and friends who had fallen be- 
fore the soldiers of Judas ; and from this period an 
unfavourable change took place in the sentiments of 
the heathen powers of the Syrian empire toward 

i There is some discrepancy among writers as to the dates of these 
events. Some make the profanation to have occurred a.a.c. 170, 
others 168, and others 167. (See Diod- Sic. xxxiv. 1.) a.a.c. 168 is 
the date more generally adopted, which makes the cleansing of the 
temple to have occurred a.a.c. 165, on the 25th of the month Chisleu. 


them. Timotheus and Bacchides, the generals of 
Antiochus Eupator, who had succeeded Antiochus 
Epiphanes, were readily joined by the Ammonites 
and Id u means for the purpose of oppressing the 
Jews; and the inhabitants of Galilee, and of the 
cities of Tyre, Sidon, and Ptolemais, likewise confe- 
derated against them. Judas however was not idle: 
he divided his forces, and despatching his brother 
Simon with 3000 men into Galilee, he departed him- 
self with 8000 against Timotheus. Both divisions 
were favoured with success: Simon drove tbe enemy 
to the gates of Ptolemais, leaving 3000 of them dead 
upon the field ; whilst Timotheus, in one battle with 
Judas, lost 8000 men ; and in another 21,000 were 
slain, chiefly Idumeans ; whose incursions Judas re- 
strained by fortifying Bethsura on their frontier. 1 
Timotheus fled to Gaza, which Judas took by storm, 
and slew Timotheus ; and likewise burnt some, who 
had blasphemed the God of Israel from the walls. 

Antiochus Eupator next took the field himself with 
an immense force, consisting of 100,000 foot, 20,000 
horse, and 32 elephants ; and invading Judea by the 
side of the Idumeans, invested Bethsura. Judas at- 
tacked him in the night, and killing 4000 of his men, 
drew off at day-break without the loss of one man of 
his own troops. He also attacked him by day, when 
his men performed prodigies of valour, rushing upon 
the elephants, and by terrifying them turned them 
upon their own troops. One man cut his way through 
the enemy to an elephant, on which he supposed An- 

i The Idumeans at this time inhabited a district westward of that 
inhabited by the ancient Edomites, having been dispossessed by the 
Nabathean Arabs. Pliny and Strabo both call Petra a Nabathean city. 
(Plin. Hist. Nat. c. vi. s. 32; Strabo c. xvi. p. 768, 780.) 


tiochus to be seated, and, stooping under the animal, 
stabbed it in the belly, and suffered himself to be 
crushed under its falling weight. 

But the Jews were not without reverses. The 
youthful brothers of Judas, Joseph and Azariah, had 
been left by him at head quarters, when he attacked 
the Idumeans, with strict injunctions not to engage 
the enemy ; but being excited by the successes of their 
brethren, and anxious to distinguish themselves, they 
marched and attacked the enemy at Jamnia, and were 
repulsed by Gorgias with the loss of 2000 men. Nei- 
ther could Judas succeed in relieving Bethsura 
against the immense forces of Eupator. The garrison 
therefore capitulated from the want of provisions ; 
but obtained favourable terms; which terms however 
were immediately violated by the faithless Syrian, 
with the single exception of sparing the lives of the 
garrison, whom he turned naked out of the gates. 
He next invested Jerusalem, which was also in want 
of provisions, and by means of his garrison in Acra 
greatly annoyed and straitened the inhabitants; but 
hearing that Philip, who had been his guardian dur- 
ing his minority, had during his absence seized the 
throne, he gave peace to the Jews on advantageous 
terms, and marched against the usurper. Previous, 
however, to his departure, he by another act of perfidy 
obtained entrance into Jerusalem, and again demo- 
lished the fortifications. 

The mortification of the Jews at the demolition of 
their bulwarks was somewhat counterbalanced by 
witnessing the signal retribution which overtook 
Menelaus, the infamous high priest, who was in the 
escort of Eupator at this time. He endeavoured to 
prejudice the mind of the king against the Jews, in 


the hope of getting himself appointed governor in the 
room of Judas: but Lysias, foreseeing that if the 
king yielded there would still be no peace, openly 
accused Menelaus as the author of all the troubles ; 
upon which Eupator, without further ceremony, or- 
dered him for execution. There was nevertheless no 
change for the better as regarded the pontificate ; for 
by the interest of Lysias one Alcimus, of the Greek 
faction, and as profligate a person as his predecessor, 
was nominated to the office. 

Upon the appointment of Alcimus, Onias, the son 
of that Onias who was murdered at Antioch, hopeless 
of obtaining his hereditary right, withdrew to Egypt, 
where he was so favourably received, not only by the 
Jews of Alexandria, but by Ptolemy Philopater and 
his queen, that he obtained permission to erect a tem- 
ple there, and Alexandria soon witnessed within its 
walls a magnificent Jewish sanctuary. The Jews of 
Palestine were not indeed, without some jealousy of 
this temple, considering it a rival to the sanctuary at 
Jerusalem, and a means of diminishing the amount 
of offerings to the latter; and some of the more scru- 
pulous Egyptian Jews considered it unlawful to erect 
a sanctuary anywhere but on Mount Moriah. Onias 
however silenced them by ingeniously accommodating 
Isaiah xix. 18 — 22 to the circumstances of Egypt at 
that time. It is further worthy of remark, that the 
Jews who remained faithful to their Egyptian pro- 
tectors continued to enjoy quiet and prosperity, not- 
withstanding the profligacy and tyranny of the later 
princes of Egypt, down to the times of Titus Ves- 



The Family of the Asmoneans. 

JUDAS, [a.a. c. 162.]— By the death of Menelaus, 
the government of the Jews of Palestine by the family 
of Jehoiarib, in whose hands the high priesthood had 
continued from the time of Cyrus, was finally termi- 
nated, and transferred to the Maccabees or Asmo- 
neans. 1 Onias, who had withdrawn to Egypt, would 
have been readily submitted to had he been ap- 
pointed; but to acknowledge Alcimus, an apostate 
from the religion of Jehovah, was impossible ; and 
the government therefore, though not as yet the pon- 
tificate, was now virtually in the hands of Judas. 

The refusal, however, of the Jews to submit to Al- 
cimus, occasioned a renewal of the war. Already had 
Judas taken arms to punish the inhabitants of Joppa, 
who had evinced great malignity against the Jews. 
1 Asamonceus was the great-grandfather of Matthias, and being a 
person of some consideration his descendants went by the name of 
^ (W !° naJ T , x. ° r by contrac tton Asmoneans. He was of the last or 
24th class of the priests, named after Maaziah. (l Chron. xxiv. 7-18.) 


For as the treaty of peace, recently concluded with 
Eupator, allowed to the Jews the free exercise of their 
religion, and liberty to return to Judea from any part 
of his dominions, the inhabitants of Joppa enticed 
on board vessels those Jews of their city who were 
desirous of availing themselves of this privilege, and 
drowned them in the harbour. Judas took the city, 
and avenged the barbarous deed, by setting fire to 
their fleet. And hearing that the inhabitants of Jam- 
nia were about to act in a similar manner, he came 
also upon them by surprise, and destroyed their fleet 
and haven likewise. 

To return however to Alcimus, Eupator, having 
killed the usurper Philip, was in the same year slain 
himself by Demetrius Soter, another claimant of the 
throne of Syria. To him repaired Alcimus and other 
Jews of the Greek party, and by means of bribery, 
intrigue, and misrepresentation, easily persuaded De- 
metrius, that the Maccabean party was disaffected to 
the Syrians, and that they themselves had been ex- 
pelled on account of their loyalty. Upon this the king 
commissioned Bacchides to enter Judea with an army, 
to establish Alcimus in the pontificate by force, and 
to punish those hostile to the Syrians. 

Bacchides, having had experience of the prowess 
of Judas and his followers, contented himself with 
escorting Alcimus to Jerusalem ; where he left him 
with a body of troops, and returned to Antioch, after 
having committed some atrocities. But as the apos- 
tate Jews, who had joined Alcimus on his arrival, 
were dispirited by the departure of Bacchides, Alci- 
mus likewise returned to Antioch, and by further 
presents and representations induced Demetrius to 
send with him another army under Nicanor. 


But Nicanor had also experienced, to his cost, the 
valour of the Maccabeans ; and deemed it therefore 
more discreet to come to terms with Judas. Upon 
this Alcimus again complained to Demetrius, who, 
indignant at the conduct of Nicanor, refused to ratify 
the treaty, and sent him peremptory orders to put 
Judas to death, and effectually suppress bis party. 
Nicanor knew weft that this was a matter easier to 
command than to accomplish; and for some time 
took the more wary, but less honorable, course of 
endeavouring to entrap Judas by perfidy ; but being 
constantly foiled, he at length attacked him openly 
in the field, and was defeated with the loss of 5000 
men. Recovering, however, from this overthrow, he 
soon after ventured upon another battle at Adasa, 
selecting the Sabbath for the attack, in hope that the 
Jews would not fight on that day. But in this he 
was deceived : Judas fell upon him with great fury, 
and Nicanor was among the first that was slain ; 
whilst the inhabitants of the country and adjacent 
towns, joining in the pursuit and slaughter of his 
troops, left not a single man to carry back the fatal 
tidings into Syria. 

Judas took advantage of the respite afforded by 
this victory to strengthen himself. One measure 
however which he adopted was at variance with that 
reliance upon God which he had hitherto professed. 
He sent an embassy to Rome, and placed himself 
under the protection of the Romans ; who promised 
to threaten Demetrius with war, in case he offered 
further molestation to the Jews. But in the mean 
time Demetrius had already despatched another 
army under Bacchides; and as if God would mark 
the withdrawal of their confidence from him, the 


soldiers of Judas, who had again and again van- 
quished Bacchides, were now afraid of him, and de- 
serted in such numbers, that Judas was left with 
only 800 men* By these he was counselled to re- 
treat ; but he refused, declaring that if his time was 
come he was prepared to die, but not to stain his 
honour. He engaged therefore with Bacchides at 
Eleasa, and desperately assaulting his right wing, 
broke it and pursued the fugitives to Azotus, slaying 
more than the entire of his own men ; but the left 
wing pursuing after him, he was enclosed between 
two armies, and fell, overpowered by numbers. The 
remainder of his little band nevertheless made good 
their retreat, carrying off his body. 

Thus fell the leader of the Maccabees, after a 
career of six years, distinguished by courage, talents, 
and piety. He never engaged in battle, except on 
this last occasion, without first seeking to propitiate 
God, — often by solemn fasting and humiliation, both 
of himself and followers; always by confession of sin 
and public intercession. Nevertheless, his piety was 
not without defects: upon one occasion he offered 
sacrifice for the sins of those apostate Jews who 
had fallen in battle, and upon whom were found, 
when their bodies came to be stripped, the same 
talismans and portable idols used by the heathen ; 
which act, however benevolent in the intention, be- 
trayed how greatly the doctrine of the more religious 
Jews was becoming darkened. On the other hand, 
the punishment of those apostates whom they cap- 
tured alive, or whom they discovered in the con- 
quered cities, was carried to a merciless extreme, 
commonly to the extermination of all whom they 
could find ; which provoked retaliation from the 


Greek party, when they had it in their power. Such 
was the spirit of the age. 

JONATHAN. [a.a.c. 160.]-Judas was buried 
with great solemnity in the sepulchre at Modin, and 
was unfeignedly deplored by all who wished well 
to their country; his death being viewed as a se- 
rious blow to their cause, and a great public cala- 
mity. On the other hand, Bacchides, with the liberal 
faction of the Jews, enjoyed a momentary triumph; 
and those who hitherto had been intimidated by the 
energetic and determined proceedings of Judas, now 
began to take courage and shew themselves more 
decidedly on behalf of the Greek party; whilst Alci- 
mus and his more immediate partisans wreaked 
their vengeance, by the slaughter and proscription 
of all whom they could find of the followers of Judas. 
Many, terrified by these proceedings, went over to 
the adversaries; the number of whom was increased 
by a scarcity, with which God also chastised the 
nation at this time, and which gave the Syrians, who 
had imported stores of grain, a greater influence. 

Owing to these circumstances, Jonathan, the bro- 
ther of Judas, on whom the command devolved after 
his death, found himself unable to make head against 
the enemy, and reduced to the necessity of with- 
drawing with a few followers into the wilderness of 
Tekoah. Here one detachment of his forces, under 
the command of his brother John, which was escort- 
ing his baggage and stores to a place of safety, was 
surprised by a party of Arabs, and all put to the 
sword ; which loss, though afterwards amply avenged, 
weakened Jonathan still more. Bacchides followed 
and pressed upon him ; but Jonathan, though cooped 
up by his position, withstood the whole force of the 


Syrians with only his handful of troops, and having 
slain 2000 of the enemy, effected his retreat with his 
followers by swimming the Jordan. After this proof 
of his prowess Bacchides retired, and contented him- 
self with strengthening the fortresses. 

Things however soon after took a more favourable 
turn. For Alcimus, upon obtaining possession of 
Jerusalem, in order to evince his liberality toward 
the heathen, proceeded to pull down the wall, which 
separated between the court of the Gentiles and that 
of the Jews, in the space before the t temple; and 
whilst superintending the work, he was seized with 
cramp and died in a few days in great agony. Bac- 
chides was glad of this opportunity to retire to An- 
tioch, and left Jonathan unmolested for two years. 

At the end of this period Bacchides was again 
allured into Judea, by the representations of the 
apostate Jews, who described the increasing bold- 
ness of Jonathan as affording an opportunity for his 
easy destruction. But Jonathan, having discovered 
a plot of this faction to seize and deliver him up, 
seized fifty of them himself, as they approached him 
under the mask of friendship, and having put them to 
death/ retired to a fortress in the desert of Jericho, 
called Bethbasi. Before this place, with the aid of 
his brother Simon, he gave Bacchides a signal de- 
feat ; which so enraged the latter against the Jews 
of his own party, that he put many of them to 
death, and once more resolved to retire ingloriously 
into Syria. Hearing of his intention, Jonathan pro- 
posed terms of peace, to the effect that the prisoners 
on both sides should be restored, that Jonathan 
should be governor of Judea, and that Bacchides 
should not again take up arms against him ; which 


terms were both eagerly accepted and faithfully ob- 
served by the Syrian general. 

[a.a.c. 153.]— -Jonathan, upon being thus made 
governor, inflicted the usual severities upon the ring- 
leaders of the apostates ; whom he regarded as, and 
who unquestionably were, the real authors of all the 
troubles which the country had experienced; and 
next re-established once more the ordinances of 
divine worship, according to the Mosaic ritual. Pro- 
vidence soon improved their political circumstances 
to a greater extent. For Demetrius Soter, the king of 
Syria, having become odious to his subjects, the king 
of Egypt, who had an eye upon his dominions, raised 
up a pretender to the Syrian throne, named Alex- 
ander Balas. Both parties, perceiving the import- 
ance to them of the services of Jonathan, endeavoured 
to gain him over. Demetrius began by restoring all 
the hostages in the fortress of Acra, promising also 
to deliver the fortress itself. He likewise gave Jona- 
than authority to levy troops, (hoping in the end to 
enjoy their services ;) and now that the people could 
enlist without offence to the Syrians, Jonathan soon 
raised a numerous and well-equipped army, and once 
more placed Jerusalem in a state of defence. On the 
other side, Balas sent him the purple and a crown of 
gold, and constituted him high priest. Jonathan as- 
sumed the office ; but not without first calling a general 
assembly of the people, and having the appointment 
confirmed by them. 

With the motives which induced Jonathan ulti- 
mately to determine for Balas we are not informed ; 
but the result proved favourable to the Jews. Deme- 
trius was slain, and Balas soon after married the 
daughter of the king of Egypt. Jonathan was invited 

2 A 2 


to the nuptials at Ptolemais ; received with great fa- 
vour and distinction; and returned invested with 
additional powers. 

But the conduct of Balas was not more grateful to 
the Syrians than that of Demetrius had been, and 
gave rise to fresh conspiracies and insurrections. 
Apollonius, the governor of Cosle Syria, first revolted, 
but being attacked by Jonathan, who remained faith- 
ful to his engagements with the king, he was defeated 
and slain. On this occasion Jonathan pursued the 
enemy to Azotus, and entering the town with them, 
set fire to the temple of Dagon, in which the fu- 
gitives had taken refuge, who ail perished in the 

The king of Egypt presently after dethroned Balas, 
and made Nicanor, the son of Demetrius Soter, king, 
or rather viceroy, in his place. For his subjects this 
was again only a change from one profligate despot 
to another ; and a rival was brought forward in the 
person of Antiochus, the son of Alexander Balas, 
who since his deposition had perished by treachery in 
Arabia. The citizens of Antioch soon after rose up 
against Nicanor, and besieged him in his palace. 
Nicanor sent immediately to Jonathan, promising a 
remission of taxes, and also to surrender up the for- 
tress of Acra, if he would come to his help ; upon 
which the latter, hastening with 3000 men to his 
relief, took Antioch by surprise. He then set fire to 
and plundered the city, and during the confusion 
and alarm, fell upon the terrified inhabitants and slew 
a hundred thousand of them. It is to be feared that 
upon this occasion Jonathan was prompted more by 
a spirit of vindictiveness against the Syrians of An- 
tioch, on account of the repeated injuries the Jews 


had received at their hands, than by a zeal for the 
honour of God or the interests of Nicanor. God 
however, in permitting this terrible retribution, af- 
forded an additional evidence, that none may mali- 
ciously oppress the seed of Israel, without meeting 
with due chastisement in the end. 

Nicanor next provoked this chastisement : for con- 
sidering himself to be now relieved from danger, he 
basely refused to give up the fortress of Acra to his 
deliverers, and moreover peremptorily demanded the 
taxes and the arrears which he had previously re- 
mitted. Disgusted with his perfidy, Jonathan now 
looked on, a silent spectator of the progress of the 
young Antiochus, by whom Nicanor was speedily 
vanquished and fled into Seleucia. 

Antiochus was grateful. He confirmed the remis- 
sion of taxes promised by Nicanor ; and appointed 
Simon, the brother of Jonathan, to the important 
post of commander of all his forces in Palestine, and 
governor of the sea-coast, from the ladder of Tyre, a 
mountain near Sharon, to the frontiers of Egypt. This 
appointment proved serviceable both to the son of 
Balas and to the Jews. The two brothers defeated Ni- 
canor, who, having raised an army of mercenaries, had 
penetrated into Galilee ; and after several successful 
battles, they drove him beyond the limits of Syria. 
They recovered also for themselves Bethsura, in which 
the chief Jews of the apostate party had taken refuge, 
since the favourable turn in the affairs of the Mac- 
cabees; they gained possession also of Ashkelon, 
Gaza and Joppa ; and soon after they defeated the 
Nabathean Arabs. 

About this period Jonathan sent another embassy 
to Rome, which, like the former, was favourably re- 


ceived. 1 But disaster again followed upon this mea- 
sure. The young Antiochus had been brought for- 
ward by one Tryphon, who had been governor of 
Antioch under his father, and who hoped by his ele- 
vation to aggrandize himself. Whether he aimed at 
the crown of Syria from the first is not certain ; but 
he undoubtedly began to aspire to it now ; and per- 
ceiving that so upright and powerful an ally of the 
young prince, as Jonathan, would be an impediment 
in his way, he resolved first of all to weaken the 
power of the Jews and to take off Jonathan. For 
this purpose, he by presents and flatteries ingratiated 
himself into the favour of Jonathan ; persuaded him 
next to disband his army, under pretence that the 
apprehension of war was now past ; and at the same 
time promised, if Jonathan would come attended 
only by a moderate escort, to surrender Ptolemais 
and other fortresses into his hands. Lured by the 
bait, Jonathan accompanied Tryphon, attended only 
by a thousand men, to Ptolemais; but no sooner 
had they entered the fortress than the gates were 
closed, and the whole were fallen upon and mas- 
sacred ; with the exception of Jonathan, who had 
been drawn aside by Tryphon, and was now thrown 
into prison. Here his cruel and perfidious jailor only 
spared him, until he had obtained a sum of money 

i At the same time a deputation was sent to the Spartans, to 
make a treaty of alliance with that state ; the remarkable feature of 
which proceeding was, that the Jews addressed them as brethren; 
(for the Jews allege that the Spartans were the descendants of Abra- 
ham by Keturah, which relationship was acknowledged by the 
Spartans.) Some have concluded that Spartans has been written by 
mistake for Sperdians. But at the same time that such an hypothesis 
does not any better account for their kindred to the Jews, it is con- 
tradicted by the fact that the author of the book of Maccabees calls 
them also Lacedemonians. (Jos. Ant. lib. xiii.) 


from the Jews under promise of releasing him ; after 
which he still pretended that there was a debt of a 
thousand talents due from Jonathan to the king ; but 
that if Simon would send this, and two of the sons of 
Jonathan as hostages, he should immediately be set 
at liberty. Simon mistrusted the hypocrite ; but con- 
ceiving it most prudent to comply, he sent the money 
and the hostages ; having received which, Tryphon 
murdered both the father and the sons. 

Thus fell the second of the Maccabean chiefs, after 
having rendered essential services to his country, 
and acquired a reputation little inferior to Judas. 
Simon obtained possession of his remains and de- 
posited them in the sepulchre at Modin, over which 
he raised a magnificent cenotaph of white marble. 
SIMON. [a.a.c. 143.]— Tryphon had already made 
one or two fruitless endeavours to surprise Simon, 
who, on the death of Jonathan, was by the Jews ap- 
pointed his successor. Hoping to take him off his 
guard, he next suddenly invaded Judea; but with- 
drew, mortified and disappointed, on finding his ad- 
versary well prepared. Soon after this he murdered 
the young Antiochus, (giving out that he had died of 
the stone ; ) and declaring himself appointed his suc- 
cessor, seized upon the crown. 

Incensed at the villany of Tryphon, Simon now 
sent an embassy to the dethroned Demetrius Nicanor, 
whom he offered to aid in recovering the throne of 
Syria, provided he would confirm him in his dignities, 
and the Jews in the privileges formerly promised. 
Demetrius eagerly accepted the proposal, and also 
spontaneously gave to the Jews the fortresses they 
were possessed of at this time. In the present cir- 
cumstances indeed of Demetrius, these things could 


scarcely be deemed his to bestow ; bat the Jews were 
nevertheless gratified with the idea of having at 
length acquired something like the name of a state ; 
the decree was engraved on brass tablets, and set up 
in the temple ; and from that time they commenced 
a new era, dating their documents from the first year 
of Simon, in whose name also they were published. 
An event still more agreeable to the Jews occurred 
in the year following. This was the evacuation of 
the castle of Acra at Jerusalem by the Syrian garri- 
son ; which having been closely watched by the 
troops of Simon, and become straitened from the want 
of provisions, at length capitulated, and was per- 
mitted to march out unmolested. The Jews took 
possession of it with great ceremony and rejoicing ; 
after which they demolished it, and cleared away the 
eminence on which it stood to a level with the foun- 
dation of the temple ;— a work not accomplished till 
after three years of incessant but enthusiastic toil, 
in which all the inhabitants took part. 

[a.a.c. 140.]— Demetrius Nicanor failed after all in 
obtaining the throne, being attacked and taken pri- 
soner by the Parthians; but his son Antiochus Si- 
detes took up the cause, and having confirmed the 
treaty of his father with the Jews, and allowed them 
also to coin money, 1 by their aid recovered the crown 
from Tryphon. The wretched miscreant fled and 
wandered from city to city, pursued by Sidetes, until 
at length he was betrayed and executed by the inha- 
bitants of his native city, Apamea. 

Whether Demetrius would have fulfilled his en- 

i Several of the coins of Simon remain. They are inscribed on the 
one side " Simon prince of Israels » on the obverse " Shekel of Israel, 1 * 
or half. shekel, according to their value; and are dated in the year of 
the deliverance of Israel, Sion, &c. 


gagements to the Jews better upon this occasion than 
the former, cannot be told : from his son, Antiochus 
Sidetes, they had another specimen of Syrian faith- 
lessness. For on finding himself seated in the throne, 
he peremptorily demanded the surrender of Gaza, 
Joppa, and the fortresses of Judea, or a tribute in- 
stead of 5000 talents of silver. Simon refused both 
to surrender the fortresses and to pay the money ; 
with the exception of one hundred talents, as com- 
pensation for Joppa and Gaza; upon which Sidetes 
sent an army under Cendebeus to invade Judea. 
Simon, finding himself becoming too advanced in 
years to take the field himself, confided the army to 
his sons John and Judas. These gave battle to Cen- 
debeus, in the inspiring neighbourhood of Modin, 
where they routed the enemy, killing 2000 of them, 
and returned without loss to Jerusalem. 

But a melancholy tragedy followed on this tri- 
umph. A daughter of Simon's was married to a Jew 
named Ptolemy ; which marriage, though Ptolemy 
was of the Greek faction, Simon inconsistently per- 
mitted, and made his son-in-law governor of Jericho. 
Prompted by a wicked ambition, and being very 
wealthy, this miscreant conceived the design of mur- 
dering Simon and his three sons, and seizing upon 
the government for himself. To this end he invited 
them all to a banquet, to be given in honour of some 
family event, at a castle which he himself had built. 
At the appointed time, Simon, with his sons Judas 
and Mattathias, proceeded thither from Jerusalem. 
John likewise set-out from Gaza, but was providen- 
tially delayed upon the road. When the party at the 
castle had feasted and had drunk freely ,-— an incident 
which one could wish, for the credit of the pontiff, 


were not recorded, — a party of soldiers rushed into 
the apartment, and murdered Simon and his two sons, 
with all their attendants, save one, who contrived to 
mount his horse and escape. 

Thus prematurely perished the three Maccabean 
chieftains : Judas in the field, Jonathan and Simon 
by the basest treachery. 

Ptolemy immediately sent off a party to intercept 
and assassinate John; whilst he himself hastened 
with another party to take possession of Jerusalem 
before the news should transpire. But John, having 
been met by the fugitive attendant, and apprised 
of what had taken place, turned his horse and gal- 
loped to Jerusalem, where he arrived just in time to 
cause admittance to be refused to Ptolemy. 

JOHN HYRCANUS. [a.a.c. 135.]— John, sur- 
named Hyrcanus, was immediately declared prince 
and high priest in the place of his father. Upon this 
Ptolemy, having vainly endeavoured to draw over the 
principal Jews, made overtures to Antiochus Sidetes, 
to whom he offered to deliver up the fortresses, 
and to subject all Judea to him, if he would assist 
him with an army and appoint him governor. Anti- 
ochus gladly accepted the terms ; but before his army 
was in the field, Ptolemy, moved either by fear or 
remorse, fled to Philadelphia, (formerly Rabbah of 
the Ammonites, but rebuilt by Ptolemy Philadel- 
phus,) and no more is known of him. 

Antiochus however, having drawn together a nu- 
merous army, nevertheless invaded Judea ; and John, 
finding himself unequal to cope with the greatly su- 
perior forces of the enemy, retired within the walls of 
Jerusalem, where he was closely besieged. Successes 
were obtained on both sides, and the siege was con- 


tinued until the feast of tabernacles arrived ; when 
John requested an armistice of one week, to enable 
him, as high priest, to celebrate the festival. Anti- 
ochus not only granted this request, but, beyond the 
expectation of the Jews, sent in for the occasion a 
number of victims and offerings from himself. This 
liberality led to negotiations for peace, which was 
concluded ; but on terms humiliating to the Jews. 
They agreed to deliver up their arms ; to surrender 
Joppa, Gaza, and other fortresses ; to demolish the 
walls and fortifications of Jerusalem; and to give 
hostages for their future good behaviour. 

John was faithful to his engagements with Antio- 
chus ; but not long after, the latter fell in battle with 
the Parthians, and rival candidates started for the 
crown of Syria. During the confusion occasioned 
by their contentions, John once more thrust out the 
Syrians, recovered the fortresses which he had given 
up, took others from the Syrians, and finding the 
want of some better fortification at Jerusalem now 
that Acra was destroyed, he again built a castle by 
the temple, which was called Baris. 

The warlike talents of John now began to shine 
forth with considerable lustre; he conquered the 
Idumeans, and reduced their country to a province 
of the Jewish state, compelling the inhabitants to 
conform to the Jewish religion, and to be circum- 
cised; a mode of propagating the true faith, which 
however congenial to the spirit of religion prevalent 
at this time, was not consistent with the law of God. 

[a.a.c. 110.] — But the most popular action of his 
life was the conquest of the Samaritans. They had 
constantly sided with the enemies of Israel, and their 
city had been the refuge of all that were idolatrous, 


heretical, or profane among the Jews. Whilst they 
were besieged, Antiochus Cyzicenus, who had ob- 
tained the crown of Syria, came to their relief ; but 
he was defeated and driven back with immense loss 
by Aristobulus, one of the sons of Hyrcanus ; and the 
city being then taken, John destroyed the temple on 
Mount Gerizim, razed the city to its foundations, 
and desolated even its hated site by directing into 
it a number of pools and springs, which were on the 
hill, and overflowing it with water. 

New troubles soon after began to agitate the na- 
tion, fomented within their own bosom, by the two 
extremes of a bigoted sectarianism and the reviving 
spirit of a careless liberalism. On the one hand the 
Pharisees, who had become the predominant party, 
were conspicuous for their overbearing insolence and 
vanity. No principle could be tolerable which they 
did not advocate ; no action was right, if not per- 
formed by their party : piety consisted with them in 
a captious, vituperative, and self-sufficient dogma- 
tism ; and a zeal which contended only to increase 
the numbers of their sect, and for the mere externals 
and secularities of religion. On the other hand Hyr- 
canus, though nominally a Pharisee, was becoming 
far too lax ; and with him necessarily a considerable 
number, who were influenced by his example and 
authority. The Greek names borne by three of his 
sons, — Aristobulus, Antigonus, and Alexander, — to- 
gether with his friendly intercourse with the Saddu- 
cees, would cause him to be regarded with jealousy ; 
but when the elder of his sons, Aristobulus, shewed 
himself so openly addicted to the customs of the 
Greeks, as to acquire the surname of Philhellen, and 
yet was not restrained by John, the Pharisees seemed 


no longer to doubt of his unsoundness. He was how- 
ever still sufficient of a Pharisee to be boastful of his 
own righteousness, and to demand of his guests at a 
banquet, if they could point out any failure of his 
duty either to God or man ; when a Pharisee named 
Eleazar objected to him, that there was a doubt of 
his being descended from Aaron, in consequence of 
his mother having been taken captive, and that he 
therefore had no right to the priesthood. Offended 
at this, and being informed by his friends that the 
calumny was generally believed among the Pharisees, 
he separated himself from their party and openly 
joined the Sadducees. From this period both he and 
his family were disquieted and embarrassed by the 
malicious detraction and factious intrigues of the 
exasperated Pharisees ; from which however Hyrca- 
nus himself was presently after removed by death. 

ARISTOBULUS. [a.a.c. 106.]— On the death of 
Hyrcanus, his wife brought forward an alleged will 
of her husband, in which the government was left 
to her; but Aristobulus threw her into prison, and 
starved her to death. He then associated with him- 
self in the government his brother Antigonus, to 
whom he was greatly attached; and shortly after sent 
him on an expedition to subdue the Itureans ; * in 
which Antigonus completely succeeded, and incorpo- 
rated them with the Jewish state, compelling confor- 
mity in religion, on the same terms as were granted 
to the Idumeans,— circumcision or banishment. 

The wife however of Aristobulus was jealous of the 
affection which he showed to his brother; and as An- 
tigonus returned from his expedition just at the con- 

* So called from one of Ishmael's sons : Gen. xxv. 15 ; l Chron. i. 31 . 


elusion of the feast of tabernacles, and hastened with 
several of his followers to the temple without putting 
off his armour, she wickedly represented this as an 
evidence, that they had designs against her husband's 
life. The king, in order to put him to the proof, sent 
a messenger to Antigonus, desiring him to repair to 
him immediately without his armour ; and in the 
meanwhile posted guards in a gallery through which 
Antigonus must pass, with orders to dispatch him if 
he passed through armed. But the queen bribed the 
messenger to inform Antigonus, that her husband had 
heard the beauty of his armour highly commended, 
and desired to see him in it ; on which the prince, 
repairing thus equipped to the palace, was slain. 
Aristobulus however was so filled with remorse at 
this deed, that it aggravated the symptoms of a com- 
plaint under which he was then labouring, and oc- 
casioned his death. His guilty wife thus uninten- 
tionally put an end to her own dignity, before her 
husband had completed one year of his government. 

ALEXANDER, [a.a.c. 105.]— Alexander, sur- 
named Janneus, the brother of Aristobulus, now 
became pontiff, and also assumed the diadem and 
title of king ; though it is doubtful whether he, his 
father, or his brother first obtained this dignity. The 
author of the book of Maccabees assigns it to Hyr- 
canus, by a decree of the Roman senate ; Josephus 
to Aristobulus ; and Strabo to Alexander Janneus. 1 

The passion of Alexander was for war; and he im- 
mediately turned his arms against Ptolemais, which 
he would have taken ; had not the inhabitants called 
to their assistance Ptolemy Lathyrus, then king of 
Cyprus. On the arrival of Lathyrus, Alexander raised 
1 l Mac. ii. Jos. Ant. xiii. 11. Strabo, p. 762. 


the siege ; but the inhabitants of Ptolemais, fearing 
to admit the king of Cyprus within their gates, he 
drew off from thence, and considered where he should 
employ his troops. 

Hitherto the Asmonean princes had exhibited an 
uprightness and integrity in their proceedings with 
other powers, which afforded a striking contrast to 
the perfidiousness and treachery of the heathen. 
Alexander, however, evinced a disposition to copy 
the profligate example of the latter. He offered La- 
thyrus 400 talents to deliver to him the principality 
of Dora ; and at the same time was treacherously 
negotiating with the queen of Egypt to attack La- 
thyrus. The latter conquered Dora, but having 
discovered in the meanwhile the machinations of 
Alexander, he attacked him ; took 10,000 prisoners, 
whom he sent captive into Cyprus ; and soon after, in 
a decisive battle, routed him with the loss of 30,000 
men, and then ravaged Galilee. The queen of Egypt, 
happily for Alexander, appeared in the field, and 
capturing Ptolemais, compelled Lathyrus to draw off. 
Afterwards however, when she had Alexander in her 
power, she was about to put him death and seize 
upon his dominions ; from which she was only pre- 
vented by the counsel of her general, who happened 
to be an Egyptian Jew, 

[a.a.c. 96.] — Not cured by this punishment of his 
evil polic}', Alexander soon after entered Gaza, under 
pretence of friendship ; the word of the high priest of 
the Jews being implicitly relied on : but he suddenly 
fell upon the inhabitants and endeavoured to recap- 
ture the place ; for it had revolted. The inhabitants 
however made a determined resistance ; slew many 
of his men; put their own wives and children to 


death to avoid their falling into his hands ; and next 
set fire to their dwellings, to disappoint him of his 
booty. He was therefore compelled to retire, reap- 
ing only discredit for his pains. 

[a.a.c. 94.]— These things did not render Alex- 
ander more popular with the Pharisees, whose dis- 
like to him and his family now attained to such an 
ungovernable pitch, that upon his return home to 
officiate as high priest at the feast of tabernacles, he 
was received with execrations by the populace, insti- 
gated by the Pharisees ; and even pelted at the altar 
with the citrons, branches of which they carried in 
their hands at this solemnity. Such was the conduct 
of the professedly loyal and religious Pharisees to 
their sovereign and high priest ! But there is no in- 
consistency into which a sectarian and secular spirit 
in religion will not lead men. Alexander punished 
them, by falling upon them with his guards, who 
were mercenaries, and cutting 6000 of them to pieces. 

Hoping to appease the spirit of discontent by con- 
quest, Alexander again departed to his favourite pur- 
suit, and subdued the Moabites and the mountaineers 
of Gilead ; but on his return, he was surprised by an 
ambush of Arabs in Gaulanitis, from whom he escaped 
with great difficulty, with the almost entire loss of 
his army. This further defeat caused the Phari- 
saical party to break out into actual rebellion ; and 
even to call to their aid the detested Moabites and 
the Arabs. For six years the land was now scourged 
with civil war, which partook of all the rancour 
which bigotry and party spirit could infuse into it ; 
and during which the blood of more than fifty thou- 
sand Pharisees was shed, besides the numbers which 
fell of the party of Alexander. He sincerely regretted 


the severities he was compelled to exercise ; and, de- 
sirous to conciliate, he commissioned certain of his 
friends to communicate with the Pharisees, and to 
ascertain from themselves what concessions would 
satisfy them. Their reply strikingly exhibits their 
insolence and vindictiveness : ' Let him cut his own 
throat ; and think well of us for being satisfied with 
so trifling a recompense for our wrongs/ 

[a.a.c. 88.] — Hopeless of winning them by mild- 
ness, Alexander now made fresh preparations to 
subdue them by force of arms. But the Pharisees 
next called to their aid Demetrius, the governor of 
Damascus, who defeated Alexander at Shechem, 
entirely destroying several thousand foreign merce- 
naries, and the greater part of the Jews who were in 
his army, and obliging Alexander himself to take 
refuge with the remainder in the mountains. But 
many of the Pharisees' party, either pitying their 
king, or jealous of Demetrius, now deserted to Alex- 
ander; upon which Demetrius, apprehensive of a 
greater defection, returned to Damascus. Alexander 
then renewed the attack upon those who remained 
in arms against him, and after a series of successful 
engagements, at length terminated the rebellion by 
one decisive battle. He nevertheless did not consi- 
der himself secure until he had likewise put to death 
eight hundred persons of chief consideration among 
the Pharisees. 1 

1 It is to be hoped that Josephus, who was himself a Pharisee, has too 
hastily adopted the calumnies of his own party, when he relates that 
Alexander put to death the wives and children of these 800 before 
their eyes, whilst they were suspended on the cross ; and sat down 
also himself with his wives and concubines to a magnificent banquet, 
during the time and at the place of execution. The account is both 
extravagant in itself, and at variance with the previous and subse- 
quent conciliatory policy of Alexander. 
2 B 


Having by this blow effectually suppressed the 
power of the Pharisees, Alexander once more turned 
his attention to war. He subdued the district of 
Pella, captured several strong cities, and died at 
length in camp, whilst prosecuting the siege of Ra- 
gaba, after a reign of twenty-seven years. 1 

ALEXANDRA, [a. a. c. 78.]— Alexander be- 
queathed his kingdom to his wife, Alexandra, with 
power to associate with her in the government which- 
soever of her two sons she might prefer, Hyrcanus 
or Aristobulus. Alexandra was inclined toward the 
Pharisees ; and immediately on the death of her 
husband, she gave out that it was his last advice to 
her, to consult that party in all the measures of her 
administration. Whether this was really the case, 
or a politic device only of the queen, it had the im- 
mediate effect of establishing her in the throne. The 
Pharisees were delighted : they now discovered that 
her husband was a great hero ; they regarded his 
dying counsel as an evidence of his contrition and 
return to their party ; they honoured him with a mag- 
nificent funeral, and extolled the wisdom and piety 
of Alexandra. The queen then appointed her eldest 
son, Hyrcanus, a dull and indolent man, high priest; 
and thus for a short period the office of pontiff was 
separated from the crown. Aristobulus, her youngest 
son, an active and enterprising youth, was passed 
over, being feared by her. 

That the Pharisees should immediately procure 
the revocation of all the edicts against their party, 

» That Josephus, in his account of Alexander, was under the influ- 
ence of prejudice, is manifest from the circumstance of his being silent 
with regard to his later conquests, and intimating that he died of a 
disease brought on by intemperance and excess. 


recal those who were banished, restore them to their 
estates, and likewise promote their own friends to 
all posts of authority and emolument, is not to be 
wondered at. But they were not satisfied with this : 
they persecuted the Sadducean party, putting many 
of them to death, especially those who had been the 
chief friends of Hyrcanus and Alexander ; and car- 
ried themselves toward their adversaries with such 
intolerable injustice and oppression, that at length 
the more considerable went in a body to the queen, 
with the young Aristobulus at their head, and after 
recounting their services to her husband, humbly 
entreated that she would either extend adequate 
protection to them in Jerusalem, or place them in 
the more distant fortresses and cities, where they 
would be removed from persecution. Alexandra 
was affected by their representations ; but, too much 
entrammeled by the Pharisees to adopt the juster 
course, she complied with their request of voluntary 

The queen soon after fell sick of a dangerous ill- 
ness ; when Aristobulus, conceiving that a crisis had 
arrived which called on him to act decisively, secretly 
quitted Jerusalem, and, going round to those for- 
tresses to which the Sadducees had retired, represent- 
ed to them the incapacity of his brother Hyrcanus, 
and that he would only become a tool in the hands 
of the tyrannical Pharisees. He easily gained over 
the fortresses to his views ; for the Pharisees hav- 
ing also disgusted the military, (who were for the 
most part mercenaries,) by their arrogance and 
pride, the soldiers, as well as the Sadducees, were 
ready for a revolt. Alarmed at these proceedings, 
the Pharisees hastened to the queen and prevailed 


on her to nominate Hyrcanus her successor; soon 
after which she expiredo 

HYRCANUS. [a.a.c. 70.]— The period from the 
death of Alexandra to the end of the Asmonean dy- 
nasty was distinguished by the strife and conten- 
tions of the princes of that family, and by the civil 
warfare which it consequently entailed upon the 
nation. The first measure of the Pharisees was to 
seize the wife and children of Aristobulus, as host- 
ages for his maintaining peace; and finding that 
they could not depend upon the soldiery at Jeru- 
salem, they raised another army. Notwithstanding 
this, when the forces of the two brothers met in the 
plains of Jericho, the greater part of the new troops 
of Hyrcanus went over to Aristobulus ; and overtures 
of peace being thereupon made by the latter, Hyrca- 
nus readily consented to resign both the crown and 
the pontificate ; his private patrimony, with security 
and ease, being guaranteed to him. 

But if the supine Hyrcanus was thus easily dis- 
posed of, the Pharisees, his adherents, were not. 
Having associated with themselves Antipater, a noble- 
man of the Idumeans, now incorporated with the 
Jews, he first persuaded Hyrcanus to withdraw with 
him to Aretas, the king of Arabia Petraea ; and next 
induced Aretas to undertake to replace Hyrcanus on 
the throne. Aretas accordingly invaded Judeaat the 
head of 50,000 men, and, aided by the skill and ex- 
perience of Antipater, totally defeated Aristobulus, 
entered Jerusalem, and shut up the fugitives within 
the fortifications of the temple. 

In this strait, Aristobulus entreated the assistance 
of the Romans, whose armies were at this time in 
Syria and Asia Minor, under the command of Pom- 


pey. The consequences of this step were fatal to the 
Jews. Notwithstanding the frequent embassies and 
the valuable presents, which had been sent by the 
Maccabean princes to the Romans, the latter had 
rendered them little or no assistance ; and the appeal 
to them on the present emergency had the imme- 
diate effect of depriving the Jews of that measure of 
independence, of which they had just begun again 
to taste the sweets; and of bringing in upon them 
that iron power, which after a century of oppressive 
and extortionate government, finally swept them all 
away with the besom of destruction. The Jews had 
immediately a specimen of the rapacity and caprice 
of the Roman commanders. Gabinius, who was first 
dispatched by Pompey into Judea, after accepting of 
Aristobulus a bribe of 300 talents, quitted him with- 
out doing anything in his behalf. Scaurus, who was 
next sent, pocketed the money of both parties ; but 
as Aristobulus bid the highest, he peremptorily or- 
dered Aretas to withdraw from Jerusalem ; who 
being attacked on his retreat by Aristobulus, with 
such troops as he could collect from the neighbouring 
fortresses, was defeated with the loss of 7000 men. 
Pompey himself came next, who also treated with 
both parties, accepting all their presents, and giving 
to each fair promises in return ; till at length Aristo- 
bulus, disgusted with his proceedings, and perceiving 
that the decision would ultimately prove in behalf of 
his adversary, quitted the camp of Pompey without 
rendering him the customary respects. 

The haughty Roman was so incensed at the con- 
duct of Aristobulus, that he immediately entered 
Judea and invested Jerusalem; upon which Aristo- 
bulus, perceiving that he had now nothing left but to 


bewail his own foil} 7 , and cast himself upon the cle- 
mency of Pompey, went forth to him and offered him 
a large sum, if he would refrain from further hostili- 
ties. The condition was agreed to, and Gabinius 
was sent with some troops to receive the money ; but 
being refused admittance, Pompey in his rage put 
Aristobulus into chains, and laid regular siege to the 
city. The siege would have been difficult and pro- 
tracted, had not the Jews been divided among them- 
selves, and the spirit of fanaticism again predominant. 
The adherents of Hyrcanus admitted Pompey into 
the city ; and when he from thence erected his en- 
gines against the bulwarks of the temple, the Jews 
would offer no resistance on the sabbath, but allowed 
him to fill up the ditch on that day, and make other 
advances without molestation. At the end of three 
months therefore, a breach having been effected, 
Pompey selected the sabbath-day for an assault. By 
a remarkable coincidence it was the anniversary of 
the capture of the city by Nebuchadnezzar; in com- 
memoration of which the priests were observing a 
solemn fast, just when the Roman soldiers rushed in. 
They nevertheless continued their ministrations, and 
suffered themselves to be cut to pieces, as if uncon- 
scious that an enemy was present. Twelve thousand 
of the Jews perished by the sword, besides numbers 
who destroyed themselves rather than fall into the 
hands of the enemy. 

Hyrcanus was now reinstated, but under circum- 
stances exceedingly humiliating to the nation. He 
was shorn of his kingly authority, and forbidden to 
wear the diadem ; he was compelled to restore to 
Syria the cities which had been taken from them by 
Hyrcanus and Alexander; the walls of Jerusalem 


were again broken down ; Judea was included in the 
provinces of Syria, and occupied by Scaurus with 
two legions of soldiers; and the Jews were soon after 
called upon to pay a tribute to the Romans exceed- 
ing ten thousand talents. 1 

But the Jews were if possible still more annoyed 
by the profaneness of Pompey, whose curiosity in- 
duced him, spite of their earnest remonstrances, to 
enter the temple and penetrate into the holy of holies. 
He had the self-denial to leave untouched the sacred 
treasures ; but the Jewish historians nevertheless no- 
tice, with truth, that from this period the affairs of 
Pompey began to decline ; and after a series of dis- 
asters and vexations, domestic and political, he pe- 
rished by the hand of an assassin in a foreign land, 
deprived of the ordinary rites of sepulture. 2 

[a.a.c. 56.] — The struggle nevertheless continued 
in the family of the Asmonean princes. Aristobulus 
was carried captive to Rome with his four sons and 
daughters; but during the civil wars and conten- 
tions, which soon after distracted the attention of 
Pompey, Alexander, the eldest son, found means to 
escape and return to Judea, where he was soon at 
the head of a considerable party. But he soon found 
that it was not Hyrcanus, with whom he had to con- 
tend, but the able and energetic Antipater ; who, 
having in the meanwhile rendered essential service 
to the Romans, was cheerfully assisted by Gabinius. 
By his aid he soon defeated Alexander ; whose life 
however was spared, on consideration of his surren- 
dering up three fortresses which he had obtained. 

i Florus, iii. 5; Tacitus, Hist. v. 9; Cic. pro Flac. xxviiij Appian. 
Bell. Mith. cvi. cxiv. 

2 Plutarch's Life of Pompey. Caesar. Comm. de Bell. Civ. iii. 


At this time Gabinius changed the form of govern- 
ment to an aristocracy, leaving Hyrcanus the high 
priest, and dividing the country into five districts 
under five separate councils. The change continued 
for so short a period, that it would scarcely have re- 
quired notice, were it not that it was apparently ac- 
complished at the desire of the Jews, who had re- 
quested something of the kind of Pompey. From 
which it would seem, that they were not satisfied 
with the union of the regal power with the pon- 
tifical in the same person,— an exercise of authority 
which was promised exclusively to their expected 
Messiah. 1 It is surprising that this was never objected 
to the Maccabees, when the diadem was assumed 
by them ; which was clearly an usurpation of the 
rights of the family of David, whose descendants 
were still living and known among them, though 
fallen into mean circumstances. But gratitude pro- 
bably, to those who were the means of their deliver- 
ance from Syrian tyranny, would prevent such, as 
at an earlier period might think of these things, from 
giving utterance to them. 

About the end of the same year Aristobulus himself 
contrived to effect his escape, together with his 
younger son, Antigonus ; and to raise an army; but 
was defeated and again sent back prisoner to Rome ; 
though the senate, in consequence of an obligation 
which Gabinius was under to the wife of Aristobulus, 
released Antigonus and his two sisters. Alexander 
also made another attempt, and at first with more 
of success ; but he was in the end again defeated 
by Gabinius and Antipater. 

i Zech. vi. ia. 


[a.a.c. 53.] — Gabinius soon after resigned the go- 
vernment of Syria, and was succeeded by Crassus, 
whose first act, affecting the Jews, was to plunder the 
temple of Jerusalem, from which he took away the 
treasure spared by Pompey to the value of ten thou- 
sand talents. But the anger of God manifestly in 
this instance pursued the spoliator. Crassus led his 
army from thence against the Parthians ; which war 
has become remarkable in Roman history for the in- 
fatuation, disasters, defeat, and ignominious death 
of the Roman commander. 1 

Not long after this, the war broke out between 
Pompey and Julius Caesar. Aristobulus, who was 
now fallen into years, as well as misfortunes, was 
liberated by Caesar and sent into Judea, in the hope 
that he might prove serviceable to him against his 
rival Pompey. His eldest son Alexander, who was 
yet alive, joined him on his arrival. But Pompey, 
having contrived to poison the unfortunate parent, 
seized and beheaded the son, and thus quickly put 
an end to all apprehension of danger from that quar- 
ter. The remaining brother, Antigonus, fled with his 
mother and sister to Ptolemy Mennaeus, prince of 
Chalcis, with whom they obtained a refuge. 

Pompey however found an enemy in Judea, where 
he least expected it. The political sagacity of Anti- 
pater enabled him to foresee the probable issue of the 
contest between the two Romans ; he therefore decid- 
edly espoused the interests of Caesar, and rendered 
him essential services in Egypt, where he also greatly 
distinguished himself by personal bravery and talent. 1 
Cassar in return made him procurator of Judea and a 

1 Plutarch, Life of Crassus ; Florus iii. 11. 


citizen of Rome, with certain appointments in the 
Roman army. The regal government was likewise, 
by the influence of Antipater, restored to Hyrcanus, 
with permission to re-fortify Jerusalem. Phasael, the 
eldest son of Antipater, was by him made governor 
of Jerusalem; and Herod his youngest son, who pos- 
sessed, in addition to the abilities and bravery of his 
father, the advantage of an accomplished Roman 
education, was made governor of Galilee. 

But the greatly increased power of Antipater did 
not please the Pharisees. They had gladly availed 
themselves of his influence and services to forward 
the interests of their own faction ; but now that they 
saw him, as the Roman procurator of Judea, possess- 
ing a power greater in reality than that of Hyrcanus, 
and the counsels of the king himself likewise swayed 
by his influence, their jealousy was aroused, and they 
began to regard him with suspicion and dislike. The 
good conduct and energy exhibited by young Herod 
in his province, though of great benefit to the nation 
generally, tended rather to increase than to allay this 
jealousy. Owing to the civil wars which had now so 
long distracted the country, it had become filled with 
banditti. For when the soldiers raised by either 
party had been disbanded, or dispersed by defeat, 
dreading the vindictiveness of the opposite party, 
especially of the Pharisees, instead of returning to 
their homes, they had retired in bands to the caves 
and fastnesses of the wilderness districts, and existed 
by plunder. At length they had become so formida- 
ble as to attack bodies of troops, and to fight regular 
battles. But the vigorous and well-concerted mea- 

1 Hirtus de Bell. Alex. ,— Dion. Cass. lib. xlii. 


sures of Herod effectually drove them out of Galilee, 
which province had been chiefly infested by them; 
and having captured their leader, Hezekiah, and 
several other chiefs, he put them to death, and thus 
struck terror into the remainder. The reputation 
which Herod gained by this enterprize only annoyed 
the Pharisees. They could not forget that he was of 
the hated Idumean race, and the son of Antipater ; 
and though Hezekiah and his companions were out- 
laws, captured in open warfare, and executed by the 
lawful governor of the province in which they were 
taken, they sympathized with the robbers, and ac- 
cused Herod of despising the authority of the San- 
hedrim at Jerusalem, inasmuch as he had put them 
to death without their authority. They so wrought 
upon Hyrcanus also, in the representation of the mat- 
ter to him, that, with a resolution unusual in that 
prince, he ordered Herod to appear before the San- 
hedrim, and answer to the charges preferred against 
him. On the day of trial however, Herod appeared 
before his judges at the head of an armed retinue, 
and delivered a letter also from Sextus Caesar, the 
Roman governor of Syria, to Hyrcanus, containing 
express orders to acquit him ; by which means the 
attempt against him proved abortive. Herod, by the 
advice of Hyrcanus himself, withdrew to Damascus 
for a season; from whence his natural impetuosity 
would have prompted him to march upon Jerusalem 
with an army, and punish the Sanhedrim; but he 
was dissuaded from the attempt by his more tempe- 
rate and politic father. 

[a.a.c. 41.] — Just as Caesar, at the instance of An- 
tipater, was about further to enlarge the powers of 
Hyrcanus, and restore to him the fortresses which 


had been taken away by Pompey, he was assassinated 
by Brutus and his party in the senate house at Rome. 
Soon after this, Antipater was poisoned by the butler 
of Hyrcanus, to which he was bribed by Malichus, a 
person of distinction, who had fallen under the dis- 
pleasure of Cassius, the new governor of Syria ; and 
would have been put to death, but for the intercession 
of Antipater, whose kindness he repaid by this atro- 
city. The sons of Antipater speedily avenged their 
father's death by the destruction of the murderer. 

After the defeat of Brutus and Cassius at Philippi, 
Marc Antony, the friend of Caesar, came out to 
Syria; when the restless and untiring Pharisees, 
hoping- to succeed better with him than they had ac- 
complished with the previous governors, sent a depu- 
tation to him to Bythynia to complain against Pha- 
sael and Herod. But Antony, having known and 
valued their father, dismissed the deputies without a 
hearing. A second embassy was met by Antony at 
Daphne, near Antioch, who alleged that the entire 
power was usurped by the sons of Antipater, and that 
Hyrcanus was reduced to a mere cypher; but Hyr- 
canus himself, to whose grand-daughter, Mariamne, 
one of the most beautiful women of the age, Herod 
was now betrothed, appeared and pleaded in his 
behalf; on which Antony confided Judea to their 
entire care, and seizing fifteen of the deputies, would 
have executed them, but for the intercession of He- 
rod. The Pharisees however, neither disheartened 
by severity nor softened by clemency, sent next an 
embassy of a thousand persons to meet Antony at 
Tyre ; who, provoked by their importunity, now or- 
dered his troops to attack them, and killed or impri- 
soned the whole. 


[a.a.c. 37.] — Though these efforts did not succeed 
with Antony, they encouraged Antigonus, the son 
of Aristobulus, who was watching in his retreat in 
Chalchis for an opportunity of obtaining the crown, 
to hope that he should now meet with sufficient sup- 
port, owing to the dislike of the Pharisees, and of the 
Jews in general, toward the Id u mean family. Nor 
was he in this respect deceived ; multitudes flocked 
to his standard : besides which he was aided by the 
troops of Chalcis, and by the Parthians, who then 
had possession of Syria, and whose services he hired. 
After some fighting, it was agreed on both sides, in 
order to stop the further effusion of blood, that their 
differences should be settled by treaty ; but whilst 
the negotiations were going on, the Parthians, with 
their characteristic wiliness and treachery, inveigled 
Hyrcanus and Phasael into their power. Herod was 
likewise aimed at, but perceiving the snare, and being 
informed of the capture of his brother and Hyrcanus, 
he made his escape into Idumea with a choice body 
of troops, and taking with him Mariamne. 

In this manner Antigonus obtained a temporary 
possession of the throne. His first act was to muti- 
late Hyrcanus, by cutting oft' his ears, whereby he 
was incapacitated from holding the office of high 
priest. (Lev. xxi. 16—23). Phasael, hearing of this 
barbarity, destroyed himself in prison. The Par- 
thians then retired into Syria, carrying with them 
Hyrcanus, and taking care first to plunder Jerusalem 
and the country round about. 

In the meanwhile Herod lost no time in repairing 
to Rome, where his cause was warmly espoused by 
Marc Antony and Octavius Caesar. He desired, 
however, no more than that AristobuIus y the brother 


of Mariamne, should be placed upon the throne ; but 
his powerful friends determined to go beyond his ex- 
pectations, and proposed to the senate that he him- 
self should be made king of Judea. A decree to this 
effect, and for the deposition of Antigonus, was 
unanimously passed, and Herod, before he left 
Rome, was inaugurated into his new dignity. 

On the return of Herod, he was, by an order of the 
senate, assisted by the Roman troops ; and he raised 
a considerable army of mercenaries. Nevertheless, 
through the treachery of the Roman general, who was 
bribed by the Jews, he had well-nigh lost all ; his 
troops were defeated by Antigonus, Galilee revolted, 
and Idumea was on the point of following its exam- 
ple. Herod, however, repaired the disaster, and the 
next spring, with increased forces, he laid siege to 
Jerusalem. After five months the city surrendered ; 
on taking possession of which the Romans were guilty 
of great cruelty and rapacity. Even the temple was 
about to be again despoiled ; but Herod, hoping to 
conciliate the Jews, bought off the Roman comman- 
der by a liberal donation. 

Antigonus was sent to Marc Antony, who, with a 
savage vindictiveness, first scourged and then be- 
headed him. With his death the government of the 
Asmonean princes came to an end. 




HEROD, [a.a.c. 34.]— The true characters of 
men, who pass their life in one even course, either of 
prosperity or adversity, are rarely known : it is 
change of circumstances, and the new class of temp- 
tations to which they are thereby exposed, that com- 
monly serve to put them to the proof, and to elicit 
the latent principles, either of virtue or vice. This 
remark is particularly applicable to Herod. Up to 
this period he appears before us in history only as an 
impetuous and generous soldier; ardent in his at- 
tachments, fierce in his resentments, ambitious only 
of exercising to the utmost the power he had lawfully 
acquired, and rather injured by the Jews than in- 
juring. But having been unexpectedly elevated to 
the throne, his character was greatly altered. He 
became jealous of every person whom he thought 
likely to invade his crown, and suspicious of every 
movement of his subjects which could possibly affect 
his sovereignty. And though he still endeavoured, by 
occasional acts of generosity, to conciliate the Jews, 


he exhibited a ruthless and sanguinary spirit, which 
hesitated at no atrocity, against those whom he feared 
or suspected or was angered by. His first act was to 
select forty-five persons of the party of Antigonus, 
all of whom he condemned to death and confiscated 
their property. He next proscribed the whole San- 
hedrim, with the exception of two members, who 
during the siege advised a capitulation. 

After these severities he turned his attention to- 
ward AristobuJus and Hyrcanus, the brother and the 
grandfather of his wife, both of whom he feared, be- 
cause they were the next male descendants of the 
Asmoneans, and therefore regarded with affection by 
the Jews. He had already, through jealousy of the 
former, preferred an obscure person named Ananel 
to be high priest ; but was compelled, by the loud 
remonstrances of Alexandra, the mother of Aristobu- 
lus, to depose Ananel and appoint her son. Ob- 
serving, however, the increasing popularity of Aristo- 
bulus, he procured certain of his courtiers, subser- 
vient to his wishes, to invite the young prince to 
bathe, who then, pretending sport, contrived to drown 
him, and gave out that it was by accident. Herod 
affected the deepest sorrow, and ordered a magni- 
ficent funeral ; but his hypocrisy was seen through, and 
to the dislike which previously existed of his famity 
was now added a detestation of his person. The 
mother of Aristobulus wrote to Cleopatra, the famous, 
or rather infamous, queen of Egypt, entreating her 
to bring the matter before Marc Antony. Cleopatra 
the more readily complied, because she coveted Judea 
for herself ; on which Marc Antony commanded 
Herod to appear before him at Laodicea. His doom 
appeared to be sealed ; but, by offering a large bribe 


to his judge, who was already prepossessed in his be- 
half, he obtained a verdict of acquittal, and the dis- 
appointment of Cleopatra was soothed with the pro- 
vince of Coele-Syria. 

Hyrcanus had been induced to quit Parthia, (at the 
urgent invitation of Herod, who procured his release 
from the Parthian king), and to confide himself to the 
hospitality and honour of his rival. He was treated 
by Herod with marked attention and respect ; but pre- 
sently after, on pretence of a treasonable correspon- 
dence discovered between him and the Arabs, he was 
put to death. 

But a rod of scorpions was preparing for Herod in 
the bosom of his own family. He had a sister named 
Salome, a woman of ambitious and intriguing spirit, 
and under the influence of a malignant envy of Mari- 
amne. Upon the departure of Herod for Laodicea 
he had entrusted the latter to the guardianship of his 
uncle Joseph; to whom he gave private injunctions, 
that, in case of his being condemned, he should put 
her to death, that she might not become the wife of 
another. On the return of Herod, Salome insinuated 
that Mariamne had been too intimate with his uncle ; 
but Herod would not listen to the imputation, until 
he discovered, — by Alexandra, the mother of Mari- 
amne, rashly upbraiding him with his barbarity, — 
that Joseph had communicated his secret. Upon this 
he put Joseph to death, and threw Alexandra into 
prison ; but believing Mariamne to be innocent of 
the charge, he excused his intended cruelty toward 
her under the plea of violent affection. 

God visited Judea at this time with various judg- 
ments. The first was a war with Arabia, which 
in the onset proved very disastrous to the Jews, 
2 c 


though ultimately they came off victors. It was 
brought on at the secret instigation of Cleopatra; 
whose insatiable avarice had after all prevailed on 
Anthony to grant her the fertile district of Jericho* 
which then abounded in date-trees. On visiting 
Judea to. take possession of this gift, she again 
coveted the entire dominions of Herod ; and though 
the latter received her with great hospitality, and 
magnificently entertained and dismissed her, she 
nevertheless stirred up the Arabs against him. The 
cordiality , however, of Herod was only in appearance : 
he was in reality disposed to put her to death, being 
mortified at the loss of so fair a portion of his terri- 
tory ; but he was dissuaded from his purpose by the 
more sober advice of his friends. 

The next visitation was an earthquake, which took 
place in the seventh year of Herod's reign, and was, 
for its severity, unparalleled in the previous history 
of Palestine. Thirty thousand persons were en- 
gulphed in the earth, or buried under falling build- 
ings ; and for a moment the nation, and Herod like- 
wise, appeared to be seriously impressed. But it 
proved as the morning dew, and vanished when the 
cloud dispersed. 

[a.a.c. 27.] — The defeat of his friend and patron 
Marc Anthony, at Actium, by Augustus Caesar, again 
placed Herod in a precarious position. He advised 
Anthony to put Cleopatra to death, and to seize upon 
her kingdom and treasures, as the best means of de- 
livering himself from her spells, and of repairing his 
shattered fortunes ; but as Anthony rejected his coun- 
sel with disdain, he next repaired to Augustus, and 
assuming the air of confidence and frankness which 
formerly was natural with him, he plainly avowed his 


previous services to Anthony; but stated, that as 
Anthony had not thought proper to follow his coun- 
sel, he now felt himself at liberty to make an offer of 
his friendship to Augustus, whom he promised to 
serve with equal fidelity and zeal. Augustus was cap- 
tivated by his apparent candour, and bidding him 
assume the diadem, received him as his friend. He 
soon after gave Augustus an earnest of his sincerity, 
by entertaining both him and his army, on their way 
into Egypt and on their return, with great profusion : 
conduct which Augustus as liberally recompensed, by 
restoring to Herod the district of Jericho, presenting 
him also with Samaria, together with Gadara, Joppa, 
and other fortresses, and likewise with 4000 Gaulish 
soldiers who had formed the body-guard of Cleopatra. 
But no political aggrandisement or advantages 
could compensate for the increasing domestic trou- 
bles of Herod, brought on by his own jealousy, and 
fomented by the fiend-like malignity of Salome. 
Previous to his first visit to Augustus, as he had 
reason to fear for the result, he took the same course 
with his wife as previously, and confided her to the 
care of a nobleman named Sohemus ; giving him se- 
cret instructions to put both her and her mother to 
death, in case of his failing in his suit. But they, 
suspecting from their former experience that this 
might be the case, managed to extract the secret 
from Sohemus ; the consequence of which was the 
entire alienation of the affections of Mariamne, who, 
unable to conceal her anger and disgust, bitterly re- 
proached Herod upon his return with his inhuman 
selfishness. Vain were* now the protestations of his 
love: neither kindness nor threats could induce her 
longer to dissemble her aversion. 

2 C 2 


Salome, who had watched her opportunity, took 
advantage of a moment, when Herod was exasperated 
at his wife's coldness, to send to him his own cup- 
bearer, bribed by her to declare, that Mariamne had 
solicited him to take off Herod by poison. The king, 
believing the accusation, immediately had her tried 
bj r a court consisting of his own creatures, who pro- 
nounced her guilty ; but he nevertheless hesitated 
for awhile, whether to consign her to perpetual im- 
prisonment or to death. In the mean time a lively 
interest was excited in her behalf among the Jews. 
She was the only remaining link of the house of As- 
raoneus, the memory of whose illustrious princes 
was now fondly cherished. She was young, beau- 
tiful, and virtuous, cruelly treated and infamously 
slandered, and moreover she now hated the man whom 
they hated. But their commiseration hastened her 
destruction : the artful Salome failed not by her re- 
port of these things to alarm and incense the jealous 
spirit of Herod, and procured from him an order for 
her execution. The unfortunate queen met her fate 
with great resignation and fortitude. On her way to 
the place of execution, she was met by her mother, 
who, hoping to save her own life thereby, reproached 
her with infidelity and ingratitude toward her hus- 
band. Mariamne meekly submitted to the imputation ; 
but the unnatural Alexandra failed in her object, and 
was soon after put to death, unpitied and despised. 

The disquiet of Herod was only aggravated by the 
execution of his wife. Love and remorse raged in 
his bosom by turns. He would passionately call 
aloud upon her name ; then, awaking to the reality 
of his loss, burst into an agony of tears ; and finally 
abandon himself to the torments of despair. This 


state of alternate excitement and depression brought 
on at length a dangerous illness, which nearly con- 
signed him to the grave ; and though he recovered 
from it, yet his temper became so much more sus- 
picious, tyrannical, and cruel, that he was dreaded 
even by his friends. 

In the meanwhile he became still more unpopular 
with his subjects, by his innovations upon the na- 
tional manners, which he was endeavouring, in order 
to please the Romans, to conform as much as possi- 
ble to their customs. He built a theatre within the 
walls of Jerusalem, and an amphitheatre without. 
He celebrated quinquennial games, had combats of 
gladiators, and promoted other heathen sports and 
entertainments. Like as in the time of Menelaus, 
there wanted not Jews sufficiently lax in principle to 
abet Herod in these proceedings ; and his policy led 
him to increase and strengthen this party as much as 
possible, in order to counterbalance the influence of 
the fanatics. Those who advocated his measures were 
again chiefly of the Sadducees ; which section of them 
came on that account to be called Herodians. 1 But the 
majority of the nation was still under the influence of 
the Pharisees ; and when therefore Herod proceeded 
to adorn the exterior of his theatre with sculptured 
trophies and statues, the multitude, who could see no 
difference between them and the ensigns of idolatry, 
broke out into open insurrection. Ten of the fanatics 
bound themselves by an oath to assassinate Herod ; but 
their plot being discovered, they were put to death 
with tortures. The multitude attacked the informer, 

i That the Sadducees were generally Herodians is manifest from 
a comparison of Matthew xvi. 6, with Mark viii. 15, where the two 
names are used as identical. 


and manifested both their rage and their barbarity 
by literally cutting his flesh in pieces and throwing 
it to the dogs. But the troops of Herod seized the 
ringleaders and put them to death, together with 
their entire families ; by which means the insurrec- 
tion was suppressed. The custom of binding them- 
selves by an oath to effect any desperate or murder- 
ous enterprise afterwards became frequent among the 
zealots. (Acts xxiii. 21.) 

[a.a.c. 22.] — This outbreak was followed by an- 
other serious visitation upon the entire kingdom. A 
long drought produced a famine, and its usual con- 
comitant, a pestilence. Herod upon this occasion 
evinced great liberality. He threw open his grana- 
ries, maintained daily fifty thousand persons at his 
sole expence, and furnished seed corn to the agri- 
culturists of his own dominions, and to the neigh- 
bouring provinces of Syria. But there was no public 
humiliation; and though the king purchased by his 
munificence a temporary popularity, the nation soon 
returned to its usual state of sullen dissatisfaction. 

Herod was passionately fond of architecture ; and 
in order to divert his mind from painful and embit- 
tering remembrances, new palaces, new fortresses 
and new cities were undertaken ; whilst the more 
wealthy of his parasites, imitating his example, cov- 
ered the country round Jerusalem with splendid 
villas and villages. Some of the more remarkable 
of the works accomplished by Herod are worthy of 
notice. He rebuilt Samaria, on a scale of great mag- 
nificence, and called it Sebaste, (the Greek word for 
Augustus) after his imperial protector. He founded 
a strong city on the sea-coast, between Joppa and 
Dora, which he filled with Greek colonists, and called 


it likewise, after his patron, Ccesarea. To protect the 
harbour both from human enemies and from the fury 
of the elements, he built here the famous tower of 
Straton, and formed a breakwater by sinking blocks 
of stone of the enormous bulk of eight thousand 
cubit feet, on which he erected a pier two hundred 
feet wide with walls and towers. He likewise built 
the castle of Antonia at Jerusalem, and other fortifi- 
cations there, for the purpose of overawing the Jews, 
and affording a refuge for himself in case of insur- 
rection. But that which may be considered his prin- 
cipal undertaking was the rebuilding and enlarge- 
ment of the temple. 1 The foundations were of great 
depth ; and some of the walls were raised from the 
valley beneath to the prodigious height of 300 cubits 
—upwards of 500 feet. The temple itself, or main 
building, was 60 cubits in length and 60 in height, 
with wings of 20 cubits each ; the exterior of which 
was constructed of immense blocks of polished mar- 
ble, 2 whilst the interior was of gold. The courts, the 

i It has been disputed, whether the old temple, as Josephus states, 
was entirely pulled down, and a new one built in its place ; or whe- 
ther what was accomplished by Herod was merely a repair and en- 
largement. Dr. Croxall considers the account of Josephus an inven- 
tion ; and quotes Hegesippus relating, that Herod only repaired and 
beautified it. This is certainly the opinion of the modern Jews, as 
may be seen in the preface to Constantine L'Empereur's Commen- 
tary. It is nevertheless difficult to reconcile the description of it 
given by Josephus (and he was an eye-witness of what it was in his 
own time), with any notion of a mere repair or enlargement of the 
old one. It is manifest also that the statement in John ii. 20, that it 
was forty. six years in building could not apply to the period of 
Herod's reign, as that was not altogether so long. But we are not 
obliged therefore to conclude with Dr. Croxall, that the Jews referred 
to the period immediately after the return from the captivity; as they 
might include in their forty-six years the completion of the forts and 
towers, and other subsequent additions. 

3 It was apparently to these that our Lord's disciples drew his at- 
tention. (Mark xiii. 3.) Some of these blocks were 50 feet in length, 
18 wide, and 9 deep. 


porticoes and cloisters exhibited a corresponding 

But however proud and boastful the Jews ulti- 
mately were of their temple, Herod himself lost 
ground in their esteem, during the progress of the 
building, from various causes. One was, that with 
that criminal indifference to right principles, which 
in modern times has found many imitators under the 
name of liberality, he was at the same time erecting a 
temple at Caesarea for a false and idolatrous worship, 
which he dedicated to Augustus. Another was, that 
he broke into the mausoleums of David and Solomon, 
(which were held by the Jews in great veneration, 
and had hitherto escaped the rapacity of all their 
conquerors,) and plundered them of the valuables 
deposited therein. He afterwards vainly endeavoured 
to atone for the outrage by erecting beautiful monu- 
ments of white marble at the sepulchres : the Jews 
only regarded them as memorials of the sacrilege; 
and never looked on them without execrating him. 
It is worthy of remark however, in this place, that 
the Pharisees so far caught the building mania of the 
age, that they erected ornamental cenotaphs and 
mausoleums over the graves of the eminent martyrs 
and prophets of former days. 

A further source of disaffection to the Jews, and of 
domestic disquietude to Herod, arose out of his mis- 
conduct toward his sons by Mariamne, Alexander 
and Aristobulus ; who, because they were hers, were 
regarded with unusual partiality by the Jews. Sa- 
lome, the evil familiar spirit of Herod, set her de- 
praved ingenuity to work to foment mischief out of 
these circumstances, and not without success. False 
charges of designs against the crown and life of 


Herod were repeatedly insinuated ; and at length 
the fact that they had, with the unguardedness of 
youth, freely commented on their mother's death, 
was sufficient to establish a conviction of their guilt 
in the mind of the suspicious father. They were ar- 
raigned before a Roman tribunal ; upon which occa- 
sion Herod pleaded against them in person, with 
great acrimony and vindictiveness ; but they were 
nevertheless declared innocent, and Herod himself 
was reluctantly compelled to acquiesce in the pro- 
priety of the verdict. 

Fresh charges were nevertheless industriously con- 
cocted by Salome, and by Pheroras, a brother of 
Salome and Herod; and at length Herod again 
arraigned them ; when by bribing the judges, and 
omitting to summons to the trial Archelaus, the 
father-in-law of Alexander, (who was appointed one 
of the judges by Augustus, as a counterpoise to the 
influence of their own father,) he procured a verdict 
against them, and put them to death. This conduct 
of Herod is reported to have drawn forth from Au- 
gustus the keen but too just sarcasm, that he had 
rather be Herod's hog than his son. 1 

Herod had other children by various wives: one of 
his sons, named Antipater, had entered with avidity 
into the plot against his brothers, hoping that by ac- 
complishing their death, the crown would devolve to 
himself. But he was afterwards detected himself in 
an actual conspiracy against the life of Herod, and put 
to death. During the proceedings, however, against 
Antipater, Pheroras, the brother of Herod, died ; and 

i Macrobius .— Sat. 1 . ii. 4. The remark is grounded upon the fact, 
that as a professed Jew, he would not eat, and therefore would not 
slaughter, swine. 


from his widow and slaves Herod discovered, to bis 
astonishment, that he likewise had been implicated 
in the conspiracy, together with other members of his 
family, and several persons of distinction ; and — which 
affected him more painfully than all—the same ex- 
aminations clearly established the innocence of the 
sons of Mariamne. 

Numerous executions followed upon this discovery, 
and the mind of Herod became, if possible, still more 
suspicious and mistrustful. He had a police contin- 
ually on the watch ; his spies insinuated themselves 
into all companies ; and the unhappy being who ven- 
tured, in the confidence of the social circle, to utter 
words disparaging to the king,was seized in the dead of 
night, and hurried away to the Hyrcania, a castle from 
which scarcely any ever returned. He himself was 
even said to go about in disguise, in order to judge 
of the popular feeling concerning him ; whilst such 
was the excitement and alarm in which he was con- 
tinually kept, through apprehension of his subjects, 
that he would frequently start from his sleep, and cry 
aloud for help against imaginary assassins. To add 
to his wretched condition, God struck him with a 
dreadful and incurable disease, supposed to have 
been a corrosion of the intestines by worms, breaking 
forth into ulcers, which rendered him loathsome to 
others, and almost insupportable to himself. 1 

The last year of his reign proved the most san- 
guinary and despotic of his life ; and one of the most 
remarkable also in Jewish history. Whilst the na- 
tion was declining more and more from the true 
knowledge of God, and public degeneracy of morals 

* See Mead's Medico, Sacra, p. 101, and Bartholinus de Morbis Bib- 
litis, cap. xxiii. 


was increasing, the Almighty, previously to inflicting 
upon them his terrible judgments, proceeded, accord- 
ing to his usual manner, to visit them with extraor- 
dinary light and spiritual blessings, for the twofold 
purpose of calling out his election, and warning the 
nation of the coming wrath. A few persons of sin- 
gular piety were yet to be found, of whom the names 
are preserved to us of Zacharias a priest, Elizabeth 
his wife, Simeon, Anna, all aged persons ; likewise 
Joseph a carpenter of Nazareth, and Mary a virgin 
to whom Joseph was betrothed, both descended from 
David. 1 Among this little band of worshippers the 
gift of prophecy was now restored ; and it had also 
been announced to them, by angelic visions, that a 
great prophet should be born at this time of the aged 
Elizabeth, and that the long-expected Messiah should 
be miraculously born of Mary, in her virgin state. 

A general impression prevailed at this period, not 
only in Judea, but also among the Gentiles, that a 
king was now about to appear, who should obtain 
universal sovereignty, and cause righteousness and 
peace everywhere to prevail. The Jews clearly in- 
ferred this from their sacred books ; in which such 
a person is mentioned under the terms " the Anointed" 2 
and " the Just One; " and he was familiarly spoken 
of by those who looked for him, as " The Hope " and 
" the Consolation of Israel" The more carnal and 
fanatic Jews indulged themselves only in dreams of 

1 The names of all these are worthy of remark upon another ac- 
count : they are Hebrew names, and lead us therefore to fear, that the 
principles of the Greek or Herodian party, who commonly distinguished 
themselves by Greek } or, at this period, by Italian names, were incom- 
patible with the exercise of genuine piety, whatsoever forms of godli- 
ness they might assume. m 

2 The Hebrew word Messiah and the Greek word Christ both signify 
The Anointed. 


dominion under his empire, and washing their feet in 
the blood of their enemies ; which greatly promoted 
in them a ferocious spirit of insubordination and 
contempt for the Gentiles. Multitudes also, who at 
various periods had groaned under the tyranny and 
rapacity of the Gentiles,— whether the power that 
oppressed them were Babylonian, Persian, Egyptian, 
Syrian, or Roman,— looked forward with desire to 
the appearing of the Christ, on account of the peace 
and stability promised in his days. But the more 
spiritual and only true believers, though out of much 
obscurity, looked also for the bringing in of an ever- 
lasting righteousness, and a glorious and eternal state 
of existence, in which all those promises made to the 
fathers, which had hitherto been so inadequately and 
transiently fulfilled, would have their complete ac- 
complishment. Besides these expectations in the 
general, Daniel, the most revered of their prophets, 
had foretold that the Messiah was to appear within 
490 years from the date of the decree to rebuild Je- 
rusalem. It will have been noticed that there were 
four edicts or decrees in favour of the Jews in all ; 
and the whole period of 490 years had passed away 
from the date of those by Cyrus and Darius, without 
Messiah the prince having appeared. The expectation 
therefore, among the scriptural and really pious Jews, 
would only become more intense, as the period from 
the third decree ran out ; and we know from indis- 
putable testimony, that such actually were at this 
time looking for redemption in Israel. 1 

i Luke ii. 25, 38. It was not clearly understood at this period, that 
the term of " seventy weeks," or 490 years had reference to the death 
or cutting off of Messiah; and that he must necessarily appear before 
its expiration. Some of the Jews also computed the period from the 
destruction of the temple, instead of from the decree to rebuild it ; 


As regards the expectation of this deliverer among 
the Gentiles, Tacitus and Suetonius afford evidence 
that it existed : 1 whence it was derived by them is 
matter of interesting inquiry. As respects its preva- 
lence east of Judea, we can hardly doubt that it must 
have had its origin from the Jewish prophets ; seeing 
that in the times of Daniel and Esther many became 
Jews in Babylonia and Persia, and that Daniel was 
also appointed chief of the Magi, whom he would no 
doubt instruct from the true oracles of God. North 
and south of Palestine it would probably likewise be 
conveyed by the numerous Jews, colonized in the 
different cities and provinces of Syria and Egypt ; 
more especially at that period when they were on 
friendly terms with the heathen. In some measure it 
might thus have travelled into the west ; but besides 
this, very extraordinary predictions were contained 
in the Sibylline oracles, preserved at Rome, con- 
cerning a king of righteousness and peace; which, 
from their correspondence in various important par- 
ticulars with the sacred writings, and almost with the 
language of Isaiah in some places, 2 must either have 
been derived from some acquaintance with the Jewish 
prophets, or from ancient prophecies existing among 
the Gentiles, previous to their general corruption and 
departure into idolatry. 3 

whence their expectation of the appearing of Messiah must have 
begun about A.A.C. 96. (; Bell. i. 3; Eusb. Chron. 

No. 1913.) 

i Tac. Hist. lib. v. c. 13; Suet, in Vit. Vesp. sect. 4. 

2 See Virgil's Pollio, who avows that the expected king there de- 
scribed by him, is drawn from the Sibylline oracles. 

s Bishop Horsley, in his "Dissertation on the Prophecies concern- 
ing the Messiah," though he rejects much of the history of these 
oracles, as fabulous, proves nevertheless the actual existence of them 
long previous to the birth of Christ. One of Csesar's party, when en- 


[a.d. 1.]— In this state of things, and in the last 
year of the reign of Herod, Jerusalem was surprised 
by the appearance of a company of Magi from the 
east, bearing valuable presents in gold and spices, as 
offerings to the king Messiah, of whose birth they 
declared they had been divinely apprised by the ap- 
pearance of an unusual star or meteor ; l and they now 
inquired where he was, in order that they might ren- 
der him due worship. The whole city was thrown 
into commotion by this event, more especially Herod, 
who though now in the seventieth year of his age, 
and afflicted with the fatal disease just described, 
had all his natural jealousy aroused, and trembled 
for his throne. He adopted however a specious and 
hypocritical course. Affecting to be deeply interested 
iu the inquiry on religious grounds, he first convened 
the Sanhedrim, and having demanded of the scribes 
there assembled, where the Christ was to be born, 
was correctly answered by them, from the prophets, 
that it was in Bethlehem. He next sent for the Magi, 
carefully inquired of them the time when the star 

deayouring to procure for him the sovereignty, alleged from them a 
passage, to shew that such a step would be consistent, inasmuch as 
there was to arise about that time one who was to become universal 
king. Cicero, who was a member of the Augural college, in which 
these books were kept, replying to the above senator, denied the pas- 
sage quoted by him to be a prophecy, on account of the want of 
phrensy and incoherence in the writer; but does not dispute the ex- 
istence of such a passage in the Sibyl. About a century before Christ, 
the temple which contained these books was destroyed by fire, and 
the books consumed; on which the Roman senate sent persons to 
collect their contents from the copies or fragments existing in other 
places. By these a thousand verses were collected and afterwards 

1 As the discovery of a fresh star, or the appearance of a comet or 
meteor, could have been no very unusual circumstance in itself to 
the astronomers of the east, there must have been some previous di- 
vine intimation to this pious company, and the appearing of the star 
must have been promised as the token of its coming to pass. 


appeared, and then dismissed them to Bethlehem, 
with strict injunctions* should they discover the child, 
to return and inform him, in order, as he pretended, 
that he might render due homage likewise. So much 
did he apparently assure himself, that this crafty 
plot must succeed, that he neglected the precaution 
of sending an armed escort with the strangers, by 
which he must, humanly speaking, have better in- 
sured his object. 

The Magi set forth, and were divinely directed, not 
only to Bethlehem, but to the very place where the 
infant Messiah was lodged. There they were per- 
mitted to behold and worship the great mystery of 
godliness, — that divine Being, who had appeared to 
the Jewish patriarchs, — who had led up their nation 
from Egypt by the pillar and the cloud, — who had 
ever been the guide, the corrector, the deliverer and 
the avenger of Israel, — now incarnate in all the help- 
lessness of childhood, and also in circumstances of 
apparent poverty. 1 But not staggered at these things, 
the Magi joined in the devout worship of the humble 
but pious company which they found there ; and 
having presented their offerings, were warned of God 
to return by another route into their own country. 

Joseph, to whom Mary, the mother of the infant 
king, was betrothed, received also a divine admoni- 
tion to retire with the child into Egypt. His usual 
residence was in Galilee ; but owing to a decree of 
Augustus Caesar, requiring every individual through- 
out his dominions to be enrolled in his native city, 

i The poverty of the family of David at this time, though questioned 
by some, is nevertheless manifest from Mary offering the poor wo- 
man's offering for her purification. Compare Luke ii. 24. with Lev. 
xii. 8- 


Joseph had proceeded with Mary to Bethlehem; and 
by the providence of God, whilst they were there, 
Jesus, the Messiah was born ; whereby also was ful- 
filled the prophecy concerning the place of his birth. 
(Mic. v. 2.) Joseph, therefore, obeying the warning 
of God, instead of returning to Galilee, went with 
Mary and the infant Messiah into Egypt ; where he 
doubtless kept secret the real dignity of his charge, 
so that it was not known either to the Jews of Alex- 
andria, or of other parts of that kingdom. 

It has been inferred by many, that the circumstance 
of the child of Mary being born in a stable at Bethle- 
hem, (which was actually the case,) arose from the 
inhospitality of the inhabitants, occasioned by the 
mean appearance of the visitors. Much may be said 
on the contrary side of the question ; but certain it is, 
that if the people of Bethlehem were guilty of any 
indifference or neglect, they paid dearly for it after- 
wards. For when Herod discovered that the Magi 
were returned into the east, he caused a slaughter of 
all the male children of Bethlehem and its vicinity 
under two years of age ;— hoping by so wide a range, 
that he must have accomplished his purpose. It is 
probable that the great mass of the Jews concluded 
the same: at all events, wonderful as were the events 
of this period, and easy to be ascertained by inquiry, 
— great also as was the sensation created in the 
first instance by the arrival of the Magi,— the city 
soon relapsed into its usual course of worldliness 
and strife, and all seemed presently forgotten. 

Herod rapidly declined in health after these events, 
and a knowledge of the hopeless character of his 
complaint getting abroad, Judas and Matthias, two 
of the more popular of the Rabbins, excited their 


disciples to pull down the statues and other sculp- 
tured ornaments, with which Herod had adorned 
Jerusalem. The king however was sufficiently ener- 
getic to seize forty of the ringleaders, and to preside 
at their trial in person ; which he removed to Jericho 
because he could not rely upon the inhabitants of 
Jerusalem. On their conviction Herod ordered the 
two Rabbins and their accomplices to be burnt alive, 
and deposed the high priest, whom he suspected of 
having winked at their proceedings. Sensible at 
length that his death was at hand, and irritated 
beyond measure at the consciousness that his de- 
cease would be an occasion of rejoicing to the Jews, 
he finally determined to signalize his death and to 
avenge himself by the enactment of another bloody 
tragedy. He summoned all the nobles and chief 
officers of the Jews to repair to Jericho, and there to 
assemble in the circus, as if to deliberate on some 
important affair; but as soon as they were con- 
vened together, he surrounded the circus with his 
guards, and made them all prisoners ; having done 
which, he gave strict orders to Salome and Alexas, 
her husband, to massacre them immediately after he 
should have expired, in order, as he said, that he 
might ensure a real mourning at his death. He ex- 
pired a day or two after in great agony, both of body 
and mind ; but this last request, like many other in- 
junctions of dying tyrants, does not appear to have 
been seriously heeded : Salome and her husband 
wanted the courage, the power, or the inclination to 
carry it into effect. 

Herod had in all ten different wives, the names 
of some of whom are not mentioned; and it will 
only be necessary, in order to elucidate the subse- 

2 D 


quent history, to slate here, that by Malthace of Sa- 
maria, one of those wives, he had two sons, Arche- 
laus and Antipas ; by Cleopatra of Jerusalem, another 
of them, he had also two sons, named Herod and 
Philip; by Mariamne, the daughter of Simon, the 
high priest, he had one son named Herod ; and by 
the first Mariamne there were grand-children sur- 
viving, oifspring of the unfortunate Aristobulus. 

Herod died immensely rich, and among numerous 
considerable legacies he bequeathed to his friend 
and patron Augustus ten million pieces of silver 
(probably shekels) with all his valuable plate and 
wardrobe, and five million pieces of silver to the em- 
press Julia ; but, excepting a few valuables which 
he retained as memorials, Augustus generously dis- 
tributed his own portion among the princes of Herod's 
family. The territory- of Herod, which had been 
greatly increased by the liberality of Augustus, was 
thus left : Archelaus was appointed king of Judea ; 
Antipas was made tetrarch of Galilee and Perea ; 
and the districts of Trachonitis, Gaulon, Batanea 
and Panias were formed into a tetrarchy for Philip. 

The grandeur and wealth of Herod, and the extent 
of his dominions, caused his kingdom to appear great 
and powerful; but it was rather in appearance than 
reality : it was contingent on the breath of Rome ; 
insomuch that Herod could not even proceed to make 
his will, until he was expressly permitted by Au- 
gustus; and the next individual, who should fill the 
imperial throne, might dissever the kingdom at his 

HEROD ARCHELAUS. [a.d. 2.]*— The stern 

i All chronologists agree that our vulgar era is too late ; though 
they differ as to the number of years : hut to avoid perplexity to the 



despotism of the first Herod, though it alienated 
from him the affections of his subjects, had neverthe- 
less inspired them with fear, and served to keep 
down, in a great measure, the growing disposition of 
the Jews to insubordination and rebellion; but no 
sooner was he removed, than the kingdom became a 
prey to continual factions and seditious movements 
among the people, and to cabals and intrigues of the 
Herodian princes among themselves. 

At first affairs wore a promising aspect ; for Arche- 
laus appeared desirous of conciliating his subjects ; 
and in a public assembly informed them, that he 
should not assume the title of king until he had been 
confirmed in it by Augustus ; and that he should 
then endeavour to render his reign happier, than that 
of his father had been. This declaration appeared 
to afford universal satisfaction ; but the Jews were 
immediately encouraged by it to prefer numerous 
requests, which were urged in an arrogant tone. 
Among other things they demanded the death of the 
parties, who had advised the execution of the rioters 
in the recent tumult ; and the restoration of the de- 
posed high priest. In vain did Archelaus represent 
to them, that he did not yet consider himself author- 
ised to act in the matter : the persons deputed by 
him to plead with the Jews were assailed with stones ; 
and the soldiers sent to their aid were attacked in 
like manner. Upon this Archelaus marched down the 
whole of the royal guard to the temple, killed about 
3,000 of the rioters, and by this example of severity 
effectually suppressed the disturbance. 

But the public declarations of Archelaus, that he 

reader, in the period subsequent to the birth of Christ, it is deemed 
expedient to adopt the vulgar era. 

2 D 2 


I considered the sovereignty at present in abeyance, 

j encouraged the members of his family to intrigue. 

| By a former will of Herod, Antipas was nominated 

his successor ; and this prince therefore, dissatisfied 

; with the change subsequently made, went to Rome, 

at the same time with Herod, in order to assert his 
claim to the throne, on the ground that Herod was 
not in a sound state of mind when he made the latter 
will. Salome secretly abetted Antipas, but with her 
usual hypocrisy professed, in setting out for Rome, 
that she went to support the claims of Archelaus. 
The Jews, having no regard for either party, sent a 
deputation to request that they might be incorpor- 
ated with the Roman empire. Augustus impartially 
investigated the affair, and finally determined to place 
Archelaus over Judea, Samaria and Idumea, with 
the title of Ethnarch only, and the promise of the 
diadem in case he proved himself worthy of it. The 
remaining provinces were divided between Antipas 
and Philip, with the title of tetrarch as before. 

Serious commotions broke out during the absence 
of these princes. The principal one was occasioned 
by the rapacity of Sabinus, an officer sent by Varus, 
the governor of Syria, to demand the treasures left 
by Herod to Augustus. Resolved to avail himself 
of the opportunity to enrich himself, he made an at- 
tempt to surprise the fortresses in which the treasure 
was deposited ; failing in which, he seized the temple 
and plundered it of four hundred talents and many 
valuables. Upon this the Jews, in a state of great 
irritation, rose to arms, attacked Sabinus and his 
troops in the temple, and drove them with considera- 
ble loss into the palace. Here they regularly be- 
sieged them, and were on the point of compelling 


them to a surrender, when Varus arrived with his N 
legions, and delivered them from their perilous con- 
dition. Sabinus, who was the real cause of the in- 
surrection, was permitted by Varus to escape with 
impunity ; whilst of the Jews, who had been grossly 
injured, he crucified two thousand persons. 

During the excitement and disorder occasioned by 
the proceedings of Sabinus, Judas of Galilee, the son 
of that Hezekiah, a leader of banditti, whom Herod 
had put to death in the time of Hyrcanus, (p. 379,) 
deemed the opportunity favourable for exciting a 
more general spirit of rebellion. He gave out that 
the taxation now going forward, and which had first 
commenced when Quirinius, or Cyrenius, 1 was pre- 
fect of Syria, was unlawful, inasmuch as the Jews 
were God's people, and instead of paying tribute to 
foreign princes, ought rather to have dominion over 
all themselves. A doctrine so flattering to the vanity 
and selfishness of his countrymen procured for him 
many followers, and seizing the public armoury he 
supplied tbem all with weapons, proclaimed himself 
king, and even gave out that he was the Messiah. 
Though he was soon overcome and slain by Varus, 
and his followers scattered to the winds, 2 his doctrine 
was not so easily destroyed. This struck deep root 
among the more fanatical and lawless of the Jews, 
and a new sect arose at this time, maintaining his 
opinions, who were called Galileans, from the circum- 
stance of his chiefly frequenting that province, and 
Gaulonites, because Judas himself was of Gamala, a 
city of Gaulonitis. 3 

J Luke ii. 2. 2 Acts v. 37. 

3 Josephus calls Judas both a Gaulonite and Galilean (Ant. xviii. 
c. i, 2. Bel. Jud. ii. c. 8.) and Gamaliel calls him of Galilee, (Acts v. 


After the death of Judas, a slave of Herod Antipas 
assumed the diadem ; and another who claimed to be 
Messiah, named Athronges, asserted also his right to 
the throne. Each of these, and various others who 
arose, obtained a band of followers, and committed 
depredations and atrocities ; and the number of the 
lawless was increased by 2000 Idumean soldiers who 
had recently been disbanded, and who for the most 
part joined themselves to the different troops of ma- 
rauders. Varus however succeeded in destroying 
these impostors, and scattering their forces. 1 

The return of Archeiaus to assume the government 
did not restore tranquillity. The circumstance that 
Augustus had placed him on the trial of his good 
conduct was impolitic; for his subjects, encouraged 
by their knowledge of this fact, became insolent in 
their deportment, and engaged in factious proceed- 
ings against him, in the hope of still removing him. 
How far these things rendered Archeiaus otherwise 
than he was disposed to be, and provoked him 
to severities, may be reasonably questioned; but 
that he did, upon his return from Rome, obtain an 
odious character for tyranny and cruelty, is agreed 
by all the historians of those times. It is manifest 
also from the fact, that Joseph, returning with the 
child Jesus out of Egypt at this time, feared, from 
the evil repute of Archeiaus, to settle in Judea, 2 and 
went instead into Galilee, where Herod Antipas 

37.) Judas has been confounded also with Theudas or Thaddeus; but 
the last quoted place proves them to have been different impostors. 
Our Lord has been thought to have given countenance to their doc- 
trine, Matt. xvii. 24—27. The same passage however most clearly 
disapproves their practice of making resistance to the tribute, however 
unlawful it might have been in itself. 

1 Tac. Ann. lib. v. 2 Matt. ii. 22, 23. 


ruled. His caprice and avarice, in repeatedly de- 
posing the high priest, and granting the office when 
vacant to the highest bidder, 1 and his severity and 
oppression of his subjects in general, caused Augus- 
tus at length to banish him to Vienne in Gaul, and to 
comply with the request of the Jews to be incorpo- 
rated with the Roman empire. Thus, at their own 
solicitation, did the sceptre pass away from Judah. 

INTERREGNUM, [a.d. 32-38.]— After the de- 
position of Archelaus, a succession of Roman pro- 
curators— Coponius, Ambivius, Annius Rufus, and 
Valerius Gratus— governed Judea down to the year 
26. During this period nothing occurred worthy of 
note, excepting the pollution of the temple by a com- 
pany of Samaritans, who, at the feast of the passover, 
contrived to enter at night at the open gates with a 
quantity of dead men's bones, which they strewed 
about;— a circumstance which did not tend to miti- 
gate the deadly hatred of the Jews toward the Sama- 
ritans, and which at this time had grown to such a 
height, that the Jews would not trade or hold inter- 
course with any of that nation, but by necessity. 2 
Salome also died during this period ; with the particu- 
lars of whose decease we are not informed : God havi ng 
thought it best, in her case, to cast a veil over her 
last moments, until that day when she shall stand 
before his judgment seat, and give account of the 
deeds done in the body. 

[a.d. 26.]— Augustus was succeeded by Tiberius, 

i It would be a matter of no interest to follow now the succession 
of the high priests ; and often would very inconveniently interrupt 
the regular course of the narrative. It may suffice here to observe 
that the proper succession had long been disregarded, 
? John iv. 9. 


in the twelfth year of whose reign Pontius Pilate was 
made procurator of Judea. Under his government 
the people discovered that, in praying for Roman 
procurators, instead of being satisfied with Idumean 
kings, they had only exchanged the serpent for the 
cockatrice : for he is described as a great oppressor 
and plunderer of the people, and as disposing of 
justice, or rather of power, to those only who could 
afford to pay exorbitant bribes for it. 1 He gave of- 
fence immediately on his appointment, by sending a 
body of troops before him from Caesarea to Jerusalem, 
having the images of the emperor on their standards ; 
a practice which had hitherto been dispensed with, 
out of deference to the national religion. Many Jews 
therefore repaired to Caesarea, for the purpose of ex- 
postulating with Pilate ; to whom he manifested the 
sullen temper in which he had arrived, by suffering 
them to attend five days before his palace, without 
vouchsafing them an audience ; and then on the sixth 
day apprehending them and threatening them with 
death unless they returned home. The Jews however 
bared their necks, and offered them for the stroke, 
declaring that they would rather die than that the 
images should remain in their capital ; upon which 
Pilate, perceiving that obstinacy on his part would 
be attended with serious consequences, gave orders 
for the standards to be removed. 

On his arrival at Jerusalem, Pilate soon betrayed 
his rapacious and tyrannical character. He demanded 
large sums from the public treasury for the alleged 
purpose of building an aqueduct; but he appropri- 
ated the money to his own use ; and when the Jews, 

i Phil. Leg. ad Gaium. 


on his appearing on the public tribunal in the Gabba- 
tha or Pavement, came about him to remonstrate, a 
number of soldiers, who were mixed with the multi- 
tude in disguise, having clubs concealed under their 
garments, suddenly fell upon them, and beat them so 
violently that many were killed. 1 

The state of religion among the Jews at this period 
was remarkable. Never was there a more general 
zeal against idolatry; never was the sabbath more 
rigidly observed ; nor the passover and the other 
great festivals better attended, both by the Jews of 
Palestine and those in foreign lands. Fasting, alms- • 
giving, and prayer were also frequent religious acts, 
especially with the Pharisees. But all was heartless. 
The unclean spirit of idolatry had indeed gone out 
from the nation, in his undisguised and manifest 
form; but he had returned and taken possession 
again in a more specious and subtle character, and 
with seven-fold power, because not suspected. The 
Pharisees had. now become decidedly the predomi- 
nant party, both in numbers and in respectability, 
and were divided into various sects among them- 
selves. Some of these sects resembled the fanatical 
devotees of Hindostan, and were equally gazed upon 
with wonder and admiration by the multitude: these 
were the truncated, the mortar, and the striking Pha- 
risees. The first walked with their arms hanging 
down, and with short and slow steps, so that their 
feet were not seen, as if they were in meditation ; — 
the second class had a large bonnet or cap, widening 
at the top like a mortar, the object of which was to 
shroud them from observation, and under which the 

\ Philo. Leg. ad Caium. 


head was bent toward the ground in continual con- 
templation ;— whilst the third class walked with their 
eyes closed, to avoid the distraction of external ob- 
jects, especially of women, and often struck- them- 
selves by inadvertency or design against the walls. 1 
Others were distinguished for their rigorous observ- 
ance of the law, or rather of the traditions. They 
debated whether it were lawful to ride upon an ass, 
in order to take it to water on the sabbath day, or 
whether it must be led ;— if an egg laid upon the 
sabbath might be eaten ;— if as many letters of the 
alphabet might be written on that day as would make 
sense ;— if a person ought to walk over newly-sown 
land on the sabbath, lest he should inadvertently 
press some of the scattered grains with his feet into 
the ground, and so be guilty of performing labour. 2 
Equally scrupulous were they concerning the putting 
away leaven before the passover ; and the washing of 
cups and platters before cooking and meals. 3 The 
law was not altogether discarded ; but its weightier 
matters were neglected for the sake of such additions 
and traditions as the above; or for merely curious 
and puerile notices of the letter of holy writ. 4 By 

1 Godwin's Aaron and Moses, p. 45, Talmud. Tract. Suta, cap. 3. 

2 Buxtorf, Synag. cap. xi. It is probable that it was to this sect, 
thus strict and rigorous, that Paul belonged. (Acts xxvi. 5.) They 
were apparently Pharisees of the same character wlio accused the 
disciples of our Lord of breaking the sabbath, in plucking the ears 
of corn and rubbing them in their hands. (Luke vi. l.) 

3 Buxtorf, Syn. cap. xi. Mark vii. 
4 The rabbins of Tiberias in the following century published the 
accumulated labours of their predecessors in this branch of study, 
together with their own in the same way. They instance how fre- 
quently each particular word occurs in the Scriptures; how many 
words there are in each book, and what is the middle word in each ; 
and even the number of times that every letter of the alphabet is re- 
peated; as ^ 42,377 times, ^, 36,218 times, &c. Nevertheless, 
though these studies were frivolous in themselves, and unprofitable 


these means the counsel of God was darkened, to the 
great perplexity and damage of sincere inquirers ; 
whilst the teachers themselves, having forsaken the 
true light for the doctrines of men, fell as a natural 
consequence into ungodliness and immorality, which 
they nevertheless practised or encouraged under the 
sanction of some tradition. 

It has been noticed in a former chapter (p. 325,) 
that they were becoming covetous, vindictive, and 
adulterous: 1 besides proceeding to greater extremes 
in these matters, at the period now under considera- 
tion, we have indisputable evidence also of the for- 
mality and hypocrisy of the Pharisees, of their ex- 
tortion and excess, their oppression and unrighteous- 
ness, their pride, ostentation, and worldliness. 2 The 
sect called Galileans, or Gaulonites, were becoming 
daily more conspicuous for their furious intolerance. 
To the most extravagant pretensions, because they 
were Israelites, to the favour of God, they added an 
increasing contempt for the men of ail other nations ; 
and whilst their unarmed partisans within the city 
were constantly ready to promote sedition and rebel- 
lion ; the armed bands of them in the wilderness 
hesitated not at violence and murder, if they could 
get into their power those who had rendered them- 
selves obnoxious by their sentiments or conduct. 
Their ranks were chiefly supplied by the more igno- 

to the parties, they became in a later age useful to the church of God, 
as providing a means of proving that the text of Scripture had not 
been materially corrupted. So far, therefore, " out of the eater hath 
come forth meat." 

1 They allowed the man to put away his wife for the most trifling 

offences, — as for letting the broth burn, and the like; and even if a 

man found a woman handsomer than his wife. (Arbah Turim, Hil- 

choth Gittin, i. See also a modern tract called Old Paths, p. 181.) _ 4 

2 Matt. v. viii. xv. xxiii. 


rant and bigoted of the disciples of the Pharisees ; 
who, in proportion as they were fanatical and blind, 
became ready tools, in the hands of the more de- 
signing of their party, for perpetrating any mischief. 

The Herodian party of the Sadducees might now- 
also be divided into two sections : those who, with- 
out casting away Judaism, desired to break down its 
proper barriers, for the sake of admitting unprose- 
lyted heathens to its rites ; x and those who conformed 
to heathen rites and customs for the sake of social 
intercourse with the Gentiles ; especially when in 
foreign cities. 

Such was the state of the Jewish nation at this 
time, requiring more than ever a prophet to arise 
among them, and to direct their attention again to 
the only true light ; and it was just this period which 
God chose for the manifestation among them of two 
of the greatest prophets which had ever appeared. 

[a.d. 29.]— The first was John, by which name the 
child was called who was born of the aged Elizabeth 
and Zechariah in the last year of Herod's reign. He 
had now attained the age of thirty years, and being 
filled with the Spirit of God, commenced his public 
ministry in the wilderness of Judea, rebuking the 
prevailing sins of all classes with the power and 
fearlessness of an Elijah. His ministry commanded 
general attention, and he was followed by multi- 
tudes, who, professing repentance of their sins, were 
baptized by him. From the righteousness and aus- 
terity of his life, and the intrepidity of his course, 
many were disposed to conclude that he must be the 
expected Messiah; but whilst he declared, on the 

l These s appear to be alluded to in the admonition, Not to give that 
which is holy to the dogs.— Matt. vii. 6. 


one hand, that the Messiah was indeed now among 
them, though unknown, he, on the other hand, as 
constantly denied that he himself was more than 
his fore-runner. 

John was presently imprisoned and beheaded by 
Herod Antipas, who with his brother Philip con- 
tinued to rule in their respective tetrarchies. Herod 
was at first favourably inclined toward John, and 
listened with complacency to his doctrine ; but being 
afterwards reproved by him, for having seduced away 
Herodias, the wife of his brother Philip, he was of- 
fended, and sent John prisoner to the castle of Ma- 
cherus, where Herodias, who was still more exas- 
perated at being reminded of her infamy, soon found 
an opportunity of procuring his death. This deed 
did not go unpunished. The proper wife of Herod 
was a daughter of Aretas, the king of Arabia, and 
was put away by Herod at the instigation of the 
same Herodias; but the father of the repudiated 
princess, incensed at this indignity, made war upon 
Herod, and in one battle entirely destroyed his army. 
This signal catastrophe is ascribed, even by the his- 
torian Joseph us, to the anger of God against Herod 
for his persecution of John the Baptist. 1 

Previous to the death of John, Jesus had com- 
menced his public ministry. The course of that 
divine Being, who had exhibited such mighty acts, 
when he led up the nation out of Egypt, gave them 
the law in Horeb, and conducted them into Canaan, 
could not fail of being wonderful, though he was 
now veiled in human flesh ; but the manifestations 
of his character and nature, which he vouchsafed at 

i Jos. Ant. xviii. cap. 5. 


this time, were chiefly remarkable for the condescen- 
sion and benevolence which they exhibited. He 
journeyed on foot throughout the towns and villages 
of Judea and Galilee, healing all who were afflicted. 
He enabled the lame to walk, the deaf to hear, and 
the dumb to speak; persons born blind received 
from him their sight; the maimed had whole limbs 
or members restored to them ; the paralytic, the 
leprous, the lunatic, the possessed with evil spirits, 
the afflicted of every description, found relief from 
him, however incurable by the art of man. These 
were his ordinary works; besides which, he some- 
times raised the dead, controlled the fury of the ele- 
ments, fed thousands by creating food on the instant, 
and performed numerous other marvellous works. 
His fame consequently soon spread abroad, not in 
Judea and Galilee only, but throughout the province, 
of Syria, insomuch that multitudes from Idumea, 
Tyre, Sidon, and other places, resorted to him for 
cures, or to witness his miracles; all of whom he 
likewise instructed in the truths of God. 

The doctrine of Jesus was equally opposed to the 
rebellious and fanatical zeal of the Gaulonites, — 
the compromising spirit of the Herodians,— the pro- 
fane indifference of the Sadducees, and the ostenta- 
tion and worldliness of the Scribes and Pharisees ; 
the consequence of which was, that he was conti- 
nually provoked into controversy with one or other Of 
these sects. The Pharisees and Scribes more espe- 
cially were regarded by him as the great corrupters 
of the law and deceivers of the people ; and he took 
frequent opportunity of unmasking their hypocrisy 
and exposing their pernicious errors. Exasperated by 
these circumstances, and more so by the decrease of 


their popularity, the Pharisees became the malignant 
and implacable enemies of Jesus ; and as, in the days 
of Alexander Janneus, they scrupled not, for the 
sake of maintaining their power, to call to their aid 
those, toward whom they were otherwise opposed, so 
in the present instance, they secretly conspired with 
their rivals, the Herodiansand Sadducees, to destroy 
Jesus. In the meanwhile they laboured to weaken 
his influence and reputation ; they derided the sup- 
posed meanness of his birth and circumstances ; they 
misrepresented his doctrine, as designed to over- 
throw the law of Moses; and they attributed his 
miracles, the reality of which they could not dis- 
pute, to the power of Satan. This latter circum- 
stance strikingly marked the awful depth of ungod- 
liness into which they had fallen. In former periods 
of national apostacy, manifestations of divine power 
had commonly served to impress and to recover the 
people ; but spiritual pride and religious hypocrisy 
shewed themselves to be more obdurate and perverse 
than open idolatry itself; insomuch that those under 
its influence became infuriate against Jesus, in pro- 
portion as the wonders wrought by him were more 
calculated to arrest attention and produce conviction. 
Besides that the leaders of the principal sects were 
thus combined against Jesus, other circumstances 
tended to increase the number of his opponents. 
The scribes and the priests, whether Pharisees or 
not, were equally incensed at having their abuses 
reproved by him ; whilst the rich and worldly of all 
parties were prejudiced against that humility and self- 
denial, constantly witnessed in the life and character 
of Jesus. A few honourable exceptions are recorded 
of persons in superior circumstances and station, who 


became his avowed followers ; among whom were the 
wife of Herod's steward ; a chief collector of revenue, 
named Zaccheus ; and two members of the Sanhe- 
drim, Joseph and Nicodemus. 1 Many also of the rulers 
were secretly persuaded that Jesus was the Christ, 
but were deterred from confessing him through the 
fear of the Pharisees and priests, who still exercised 
a spiritual despotism over the majority, both of rich 
and poor, and visited with the appalling ban of ex- 
communication all who ventured to express convic- 
tions on this point. 

The ministry of Jesus continued only into the 
fourth year; though when his uncompromising bold- 
ness and fidelity are considered, and the manifold 
dangers to which he was exposed, we rather wonder 
that the period of it was so long. In tne cities and 
towns he was constantly beset by the spies of the 
Pharisees, who insinuated themselves into all as- 
semblies, and sometimes feigned to be his disciples, 
only that they might the more readily find occasion 
to accuse him. 2 When, in order to avoid their 
machinations, he quitted Judea and Galilee, he there 
was exposed to the banditti and fanatics, who daily 
became more numerous and audacious. The tetrarcb, 
also, of Galilee, Herod Antipas, was watching for an 
occasion to cut him off : for so many adventurers had 
recently pretended to be the Messiah and king, that 
he feared lest Jesus might turn to account the mul- 
titudes who followed him in like manner, — an enter- 
prise for which some of them had already shewn 
themselves disposed. 3 Still more jealous was Pilate, 
the procurator of Judea, of popular movements; 

1 John ix. 22, 34, and xii. 42, 43. 
2 Luke xiv. l j xx. 20. 3 jq^q v i # 15> 


nor .was he uninformed of the multitudes who every 
where followed Jesus. Moreover the Pharisees had 
not failed to represent and confound the followers 
of Jesus in Galilee, with those of Judas of Galilee, 
in regard to whom Pilate had shewn himself suffi- 
ciently on the alert ; for being informed that a body 
of them had visited Jerusalem for worship, he sur- 
rounded them in the temple with his guards, and 
hewed them in pieces, while they were in the act of 
offering sacrifice. 1 The preservation of Jesus, under 
all these circumstances of danger, was not less an 
evidence of the righteousness of his career, than of 
the special providence of God. Pilate appears to 
have been convinced that he was a harmless and 
benevolent prophet, from whom nothing was to be 
feared ; and to have been accurately informed of the 
envy which prompted the representations of the 
priests: his wife also appears to have secretly fav- 
oured Jesus. 2 Whilst that same popularity, which ex- 
cited the fears of Herod and the malignity of the Pha- 
risees, deterred them from violence against him, lest 
it should be avenged by the people ; and they waited 
in vain for any indiscretion of Jesus, on which they 
might ground, before Pilate, an accusation against 

The circumstances which ultimately led to his ap- 
prehension and condemnation equally manifested his 
unblameable and holy character, with those which 
had hitherto contributed to his safety. One of the 
great and benign objects of Jesus was to make atone- 
ment for the sins of his people, by the sacrifice of 
himself; and being aware that the hour was now ar- 

i Luke xiii. 1. 2 Matt, xxvii. 18, 19 

2 E 


rived when that sacrifice was to be offered, lie pre- 
pared to attend the great festival of the passover, 
which was at hand. Having therefore made a last 
circuit through the towns and villages of Galilee; 
he once more visited the cities of Judeaand ascended 
to Jerusalem. Hitherto he had restrained all public 
demonstrations of the people in his behalf, forbid- 
ing them even to declare that he was the Christ: 
on this occasion however, having arrived in the vici- 
nity of Jerusalem, and a vast concourse issuing forth 
to meet him with branches of palm, he suffered him- 
self to be placed on an ass, and conducted into the 
city, amidst the acclamations and hosannas of the 
people, who spread their garments in the way and 
exhibited the liveliest testimonies of joy; whilst the 
multitude of his disciples who followed, moved by 
the scene before them, burst into a transport of 
praise, and glorified God for the marvellous works 
which they had been permitted to behold. Those 
who had remained in the city were also greatly 
affected at this proceeding ; and for the moment it 
appeared as if the entire nation was about to receive 
and acknowledge him as Messiah. 

Jesus had only in one instance assumed the exer- 
cise of authority. This was upon the first commence- 
ment of his ministry, when, upon entering Jerusalem 
to attend the passover, he drove from the courts of 
the temple those who profaned them by the sale of 
sheep, oxen, and doves, and overthrew the tables of 
the money-changers. The practice had apparently 
grown up under the connivance or sanction of the 
priests themselves, in order that worshippers might 
be provided on the spot with unblemished animals 
for sacrifice ; no less than seventy-three different 


kinds of blemishes being enumerated by the rabbins. 1 
By the sale of these the priests realized a consider- 
able gain ; and as their covetousness was too tena- 
cious of its prey readily to relinquish it, the practice 
was speedily resumed, and the courts of the temple 
had now become again a sort of mixed market and 
exchange. Jesus however went up straight to the 
temple, accompanied by the same multitude which 
escorted him into the city, and once more ejected 
the money-changers, the salesmen and their stock, 
from the courts of the Lord's house. These proceed- 
ings, together with the popular demonstration at this 
time in behalf of Jesus, goaded the priests and phar- 
isees to madness, and they now resolved to seize the 
earliest opportunity of apprehending him apart from 
the multitude. 

The desired opportunity, owing to the prudence of 
Jesus, in privately withdrawing from the city for the 
night, might have been long waited for, had not his 
place of retreat been betrayed by a disciple, who at 
this crisis repaired to the priests, and for the sake of 
a bribe of small amount, conducted the officers of the 
temple and their guard to the spot. Some of his 
select disciples, who were with him, made a show of 
resistance, and wounded a servant of the high priest; 
but Jesus forbade them to resist; and having healed 
the sufferer and secured the retreat of his disciples, 
who forsook him and fled, he quietly surrendered 
himself to his enemies. > 

The circumstances of the trial which followed, 
though familiar to every reader of the Evangelists, 
were nevertheless so immediate a cause of the ter- 

1 See a Treatise oir the Passover, by the Rev. J. S. C. F. Frey, a 
converted Jew. 

2 E 2 


rible judgments, which soon after came upon the 
entire nation, and which were in many respects so 
manifestly retributive, that some notice of them, in 
a history of Israel, appears indispensable. 

The party which apprehended Jesus led him first 
to the house of Annas, or Ananias, a person of con- 
siderable influence, who had himself been pontiff, 
and also obtained the office for five of his sons and 
for his son in law. For men were now advanced to 
the pontificate and deposed again, whenever the cu- 
pidity of the procurator could be tempted by a bribe ; 
so that instead of continuing to hold the office for 
life, no less than twenty-seven high priests were 
superseded, through corruption or tyranny, in the 
short period from the death of Herod to the destruc- 
tion of Jerusalem. Ananias however had no incli- 
nation to take upon himself the odium of condemn- 
ing Jesus, and therefore sent him to Caiaphas, his 
son-in-law, who was actually the high priest at that 
time. By him every principle of justice, and every 
consideration of decency and decorum were violated. 
By the rabbinical law criminal proceedings could 
only be commenced and conducted during the day ;* 
but Caiaphas, though it was night, immediately con- 
vened the Sanhedrim, and entered at once upon the 
examination. The law of Moses also required, that 
the person accused should be confronted with his 
accusers, and every word established by the testi- 
mony of two or three witnesses ; 2 but Caiaphas, 
without adducing any evidence, endeavoured to ex- 
tort something from Jesus himself, whereon he might 
ground an accusation ; and when Jesus remonstrated, 

1 Sanhed. c. iv. s. l. 2 Deuteronomy xix. 15. 


he was smitten by one of tbe officers of the court. 
After this proof of their injustice, as he chose to be 
silent to all further interrogatories, the council, which 
had now assembled, suborned false witnesses; but 
the testimony of their own hirelings proved so contra- 
dictory, that they dared not convict upon it. It is 
worthy of remark, in this place, that the disciple 
who betrayed Jesus was not brought forward against 
him; although he must have been well acquainted with 
his conduct, both in public and private, and would na- 
turally have been glad of the opportunity of palliating 
his own treachery, by alleging the imposture or im- 
moralities of his master. But it is manifest that no 
evidence could be obtained, from this quarter, of 
any design or effort on the part of Jesus to excite the 
multitude to rebellion ; no proof of unguarded con- 
duct in his more private hours; no testimony that 
his miracles were tricks, effected by collusion with 
his disciples. 

It was now the duty of the high priest to punish 
those who were convicted of swearing falsely against 
Jesus ; > but instead of thus protecting and avenging 
the accused, Caiaphas reverted again to his former 
system of interrogating, adjuring him by the living 
God to say, if he were the Christ, the Son of God. 
Jesus could no longer keep silence, when invoked 
by the name of God, and avowed himself to be 
such; on which they immediately condemned him 
of blasphemy, and sentenced him to death. A scene 
of scandalous tumult followed. The whole council 
began to deride and insult him, spitting in his face, 
buffeting him, and betraying their envy and malig- 
nity in various ways. 

* Deuteronomy xix. 16 — 21. 


Having however condemned Jesus, they feared his 
popularity too much to be his executioners them- 
selves ; especially as it was the time of the passover. 
As soon therefore as it was day, they hurried him off 
to Pilate, the procurator, requiring of him to put him 
to death forthwith. But however accustomed Pilate 
was to have the course of justice prescribed for him 
by bribery, the unceremoniousness of this demand 
led him first to inquire what crime Jesus had com- 
mitted; which question drew forth a characteristic 
reply from the insolent Pharisees : " If he were not 
a malefactor, we would not have delivered him unto 
thee." Piqued at this arrogance, Pilate bade them 
take and dispose of Jesus themselves; but they ex* 
cused themselves by declaring, that they had no 
longer the power to put any to death : a remarkable 
reply, inasmuch as they thereby again admitted 
that the sceptre had departed from Judah, and con- 
quently that, according to their scriptures, Messiah 
must now have made his appearance. 1 Perceiving 
however that Pilate was not disposed to proceed 
without a formal accusation being made, they now 
alleged against Jesus, not that he had made himself 
the Son of God, for which they had themselves con- 
demned him, but that he forbade to give tribute to 
Caesar, set himself up for a king, and went about 
Galilee, inciting the people to rebellion. The pro- 
curator was persuaded of the innocence of Jesus of 
these charges; but being entangled by the fear of 
disobliging the Jews, inasmuch as his affairs did 
not at that time stand well at Rome with Tibe- 
rius, he gladly availed himself of the mention of 

I Genesis xlix. 10. 


Galilee to relieve himself of the present difficulty, 
by sending the accused for judgment to Herod An- 
tipas, who had come up to Jerusalem on occasion 
of the passover. 

Herod was pleased at the opportunity of seeing 
Jesus, hoping to witness some miracle performed by 
him ; but Jesus again thought proper to maintain a 
strict silence, both to the interrogatories of the Te- 
trarch, and the vehement accusations of the Jews, 
who had followed thither. However mortified He- 
Tod might have been at the reserve of Jesus, he could 
find no pretext for condemning him : nevertheless, 
he also, like the Jewish rulers, indulged his malig- 
nity, by insulting and deriding his prisoner ; in which 
outrage he was joined by his courtiers ; and having 
arrayed Jesus in a purple robe, in mockery of his 
supposed pretensions, he sent him back thus habited 
to Pilate. 

The innocence of Jesus, 1 and the iniquity of his 
accusers, became more apparent at every stage of 
the extraordinary proceedings against him. Pilate 
had previously declared that he found him without 
fault, and Herod had virtually acquitted him ; but 
his enemies, only exasperated the more, still urged 
Pilate to condemn him. Thus embarrassed with the 
affair again, the governor now thought of appealing 
to the multitude, whom he knew to be in general 
favourably inclined to Jesus. A custom had grown 
up with the Roman procurators of releasing to the 
people, at the festival of the passover, one of two 
prisoners, proposed for their choice. Taking for 
granted therefore, that the measure would be agree- 
able, Pilate resolved at once to liberate Jesus ; but 
the priests about him were instantly clamorous to 


have a choice, according to the usual custom. Upon 
this Pilate, to render 'the contrast of character the 
more striking, selected from his prisoners a leader of 
banditti, named Barabbas, who also had excited an 
insurrection and committed murder therein, and set 
up this ruffian to the choice of the multitude, toge- 
ther with Jesus. But besides that many of the peo- 
ple secretly favoured the banditti, when they assumed 
a political character, they were awed by the presence 
in such numbers of the priests and pharisees, who 
still had sufficient hold upon their consciences or 
their fears, to influence the majority to demand 
Barabbas; and, on Pilate submitting to them his 
perplexity, how in that case to dispose of Jesus, 
they further raised an overwhelming clamour, that 
he should be crucified. 

Foiled in these attempts, and not having moral 
courage sufficient to acquit Jesus, Pilate next, in the 
hope of still delivering him from capital punish- 
ment, by gratifying to a certain extent the faction of 
the priests and rulers, released Barabbas and scourged 
Jesus; and then bringing him forth bleeding to the 
multitude, in the persuasion that he would now ex- 
cite their compassion, he declared again that he 
found no fault in him. But Pilate does not appear 
to have been acquainted with human nature: the 
declaration of the innocence of Jesus served only to 
exasperate his enemies the more ; and they again 
tumultously vociferated to have him crucified. 

Angered apparently at their opposition, Pilate now 
grew more determined, and plainly declared that they 
must then crucify him themselves, as he would have 
nothing to do with it. On which the Pharisees, per- 
ceiving that it would only expose them to so much 


the greater odium, to put Jesus to death, in the face 
of Pilate's declaration of his innocence, now brought 
forward the charge which they had hitherto kept out 
of sight ; viz. his having made himself the Son of 
God. This accusation however produced the reverse 
effect on Pilate from what was intended : it awakened 
in him a religious awe of the character of his prisoner; 
which, combined with a communication from his wife 
at this juncture, warning him that she had suffered 
much in a dream concerning Jesus, determined him 
to release him. 

The moment was critical, and the acquittal of Jesus 
humanly speaking certain ; when the Jews, increas- 
ing in turbulence and fury at the prospect of the 
escape of their victim, now boldly insinuated that 
Pilate must be a traitor to Caesar, if he spared a man 
who had asserted himself to be a king ; alarmed at 
which, the resolution of the governor was suddenly 
reversed, and he determined, at any sacrifice of jus- 
tice or inclination, to oblige the influential Jews, that 
he might have them for his friends at the tribunal of 
Tiberius. He therefore delivered Jesus to be exe- 
cuted, together with two brigands, 1 who were all 
crucified on the day before the Passover, in contra- 
vention again of the existing Jewish law, which for- 
bade the infliction of punishment on the eve of a 
sabbath. 2 Thus was consummated, by Jew and Gen- 
tile united,— -the one instigating, the other consenting 
to commit the deed,— the most atrocious and appal- 
ling act of wickedness; the climax of all. that the 
darkness, depravity and rebellion of the human 
heart had ever yet perpetrated, or that is possible to 
be perpetrated by man ! 

1 Aijorai, Matt, xxvii. 38. 2 Sanhed. c. iv. s. 1. 


The behaviour of Jesus in the hour of death cor- 
responded with his life. Whilst hanging upon the 
cross, he was careful only of those about him; he 
dispensed a blessing to one of his fellow-sufferers ; 
he bore with wonderful patience and meekness the 
jeers and revilings of his exulting enemies ; and the 
last prayer he uttered was for their forgiveness. 

The Jews congregated together on this occasion 
witnessed what they had not anticipated, when they 
came up to the festival ; and what they were, as yet, 
still unconscious of,— the true paschal lamb put to 
death on the very day appointed for the lambs offered 
on the passover to be killed ; and on that very mount 
Moriah whereon, nearly two thousand years before, 
Abraham had offered up Isaac, the type of Christ, 
and received the promise, that in that mount the 
Lord should be seen. (See page 15.) 

Fearful signs and prodigies gave immediate indi- 
cation of the anger of heaven, and closed the direful 
tragedy. The noon-day sun was eclipsed, and a 
supernatural darkness— fit emblem of the darkness 
of the deed— enveloped the land for three hours ; 1 
a mighty earthquake also shook it to its centre, 
splitting the rocks and bursting open the sepul- 
chres; 2 and the vail which divided the sanctuary 
of the temple from the holy of holies was rent 

1 The annals of history have been ransacked to discover a record 
of a natural eclipse having taken place at this period ; but it is impos- 
sible that a natural eclipse should have occurred when the moon was 
at the full, which was always the case at the time of the Passover. 

2 Pliny says that the greatest earthquake in the memory of man 
happened in the reign of Tiberius Caesar, when twelve cities of Asia 
were levelled in a single night. (C. Plinii, Sec. lib. ii. c. 84.) And 
Maundrell, in his Travels from Aleppo to Jerusalem, observes that 
the wide chasms or clefts in the rocks about Jerusalem afford clear 
testimony of some violent convulsion of nature having taken place. 


asunder from the top to the bottom. The Roman 
centurion, on duty on this occasion, was awed into 
the conviction that Jesus really was— what the Jews 
had accused him of only pretending to be— the Son 
of God; and those who had silently commiserated 
Jesus now smote their breasts, and returned de- 
jected and dismayed into the city. 

The triumph of the enemies of Jesus was but of 
short duration. His body was given up for sepul- 
ture to Joseph and Nicodemus, the two members of 
the Sanhedrim mentioned before, and who alone dis- 
sented openly from the acts of the council. But as 
Jesus had predicted, that if put to death he should 
rise again on the third day, Pilate allowed the priests, 
at their request, a guard, for the purpose of watching 
the sepulchre in which Joseph deposited the corpse, 
and thus of preventing any fraud being practised 
by his disciples. The great day however of the pass- 
over was scarcely passed, when it was announced to his 
afflicted followers, that Jesus was risen from the 
bead ! It is remarkable, that though the fears of his 
enemies were alive to his predictions of this event, and 
they had taken their precautions accordingly, his dis- 
ciples on the contrary seem not to have recollected it, 
and were hard to be persuaded of it ; but all doubt was 
speedily removed, and their sorrow turned into joy, 
by the appearance of Jesus himself among them. 

In the meanwhile the enemies of Jesus were filled 
with consternation. The soldiers, whom they had 
placed to guard the sepulchre, had returned terrified 
to their employers, and reported that an angel had 
descended from heaven too terrible for them to look 
upon, and that while they were prostrate and almost 
dissolved with fear, and amidst lightning and another 


shock of earthquake, the tomb was burst open, and 
the body was gone. The Sanhedrim was immediately 
convened, and the guards were strictly examined ; 
but their testimony found consistent. Yet even with 
this further extraordinary evidence before them of 
Jesus being the Messiah, his enemies were too har- 
dened to yield to it; and they bribed the soldiers 
with a considerable largess to affirm, that the disciples 
had come in the night, whilst they were asleep, and 
had stolen the body. The story could not well have 
been exceeded in absurdity ; since, bad they really 
been asleep, it is manifest they could not have known 
whether the corpse had been stolen or otherwise re- 
moved ; and, moreover, to sleep at their post, was an 
offence not likely to have been admitted by soldiers, 
had it been the fact, inasmuch as it was punishable 
with death. But nothing is too preposterous for the 
depraved mind of man to take refuge in, when he 
desires to avoid being convinced by truth. 

Matters nevertheless remained tolerably quiet un- 
til the feast of Pentecost, which occurred seven 
weeks afterwards ; for the manifestations of Jesus 
after his resurrection were confined to his disciples, 
amounting in number to about one hundred and 
twenty in Jerusalem, and about five hundred in Ga- 
lilee; 1 in the midst of whom he ascended into heaven 
about forty days after his resurrection. But on the 
day of Pentecost other wonders threw all Jerusalem 
again into a state of excitement. Jesus had not only 
foretold that he would arise from the dead and return 
to his heavenly Father ; but that he would send down 
from heaven the Holy Ghost upon his disciples, en- 

1 Acts i. 15 ; 1 Cor. xv. 6. 


dowing them with miraculous powers, and enabling 
them also in turn to work signs and wonders. These 
facts indeed, the resurrection and outpouring of the 
Spirit, were to be at once the proof that his death 
was no common or accidental event, but brought 
about by Jehovah, and accepted as an atonement for 
the sins, not merely of the Jews, but of the entire 
human race ; and that Jesus was actually ascended 
to the right hand of power, from whence he instructed 
his disciples to expect that he should hereafter re- 
turn. Accordingly, on the arrival of the festival of 
Pentecost, the disciples were suddenly filled with the 
Holy Ghost whilst engaged in prayer; which de- 
scended also and rested upon the heads of each of 
them in a visible manner, like flame, or cloven 
tongues of fire. Upon this they went forth and aston- 
ished the multitude by the deeds they were enabled 
to perform : they cast out devils, they healed the 
sick, they raised the dead; and— which was more 
especially the sign of having received the Holy 
Ghost, — they spoke in languages which they had 
never learned, and prophesied. The Jews congre- 
gated at Jerusalem from all the various countries of 
the world in which they sojourned, heard the doc- 
trine of Jesus now declared in their respective lan- 
guages by illiterate Galileans ; and the Jews, for one 
mighty prophet whom they had crucified, saw hun- 
dreds now risen up in his place and boldly proclaim- 
ing the truths of God. 

Hitherto the proceedings of Jesus had been at- 
tended with no results that could be called national. 
In the times of Hezekiah and Josiah an extensive 
reformation had been effected, by means of the des- 
potic power exercised by those princes ; but during 


the ministry of Jesus the authorities were arrayed 
against him; and though his miracles had excited 
general attention, and multitudes had been baptized, 
his doctrine was not decidedly embraced, nor his cause 
espoused, excepting by the comparatively small num- 
ber of disciples already named. Now however the 
affairs of religion assumed a different aspect, and a 
considerable body of devout and spiritual worship- 
pers of Jesus, as Messiah and God, were gathered to 
the Lord. Soon after entering upon his ministry, 
Jesus had selected twelve disciples, whom he called 
apostles or missionaries; and these were now en- 
dowed with superior authority and more abundant 
gifts, having the exclusive power also, by the impo- 
sition of bands, of communicating miraculous gifts 
to others. By their preaching, three thousand con- 
verts were added to the disciples on the day of Pen- 
tecost ; a few days afterwards the number of male 
disciples alone amounted to about five thousand; 
after which they rapidly grew into a great multitude, 
including a large company of the priesthood. 1 These 
all came into subjection to the apostles and the 
elders appointed by them, who formed a council at 
Jerusalem ; but though they thus erected a separate 
constitution and government for their own afl'airs, 
they were obedient to the civil and political regu- 
lations of the Roman and Jewish authorities, when 
the decrees or directions of those authorities did not 
plainly contravene the commands of their Messiah. 
There were some important circumstances in which 
the Mosaic ritual and laws were now affected by the 
doctrine of the apostles. The law in general, given 

l Acts ii. 41 ; iv. 4; v. 14; vi. 7. 


through Moses, occupied a different position ; and 
instead of being regarded as a rigorous covenant, was 
considered only as a rule of life. The Aaronic priest- 
hood was viewed as done away, and a new priesthood 
established, centred in Jesus alone, after the order 
or pattern of that exhibited by Melchizedek, who was 
both priest and king of Salem in Abraham's time. 
The object for which sacrifices and offerings were in- 
stituted was now held as accomplished by the one 
offering of Jesus on the cross. The rite of circum- 
cision was considered as virtually abrogated; and 
the first day of the week was observed as the Sabbath, 
instead of, or rather in addition to, the seventh day. 
For in deference to the prejudices of the Jews, and to 
the existing state of things, the believers did not offer 
any violence to the Mosaical ordinances, but con- 
tinued for some time to observe them likewise, though 
without considering them to be binding on the con- 

In regard also to the promises made to Abraham 
and the fathers, and which constituted that new co- 
venant of grace now brought into operation ; l the dis- 
ciples had with much earnestness sought instruction 
of Jesus, previous to his ascension, concerning the 
period when those promises should be fully accom- 
plished, and the kingdom and dominion given to 
Israel, in that plenary sense, which had ever been 
expected should take place in the days of the Mes- 
siah. But they were explicitly informed, that this 
was not to be until the return again of Jesus from the 
heavens. 2 They had also been expressly warned by 
Jesus previous to his death, that the city and temple 

1 Gal. iii. 16—18. ' Acts i. 6; iii. 19—21. 


should be again destroyed, and the people carried 
captive into all nations, and that they should remain 
dispersed and trodden down among the Gentiles for 
an indefinite period. 1 In the mean time they ,were 
now taught by the Spirit to wait patiently until his 
second advent, for the manifestation and glory of 
the kingdom of Christ, and that general resurrection 
of the righteous dead, by means of which the fathers 
should yet enjoy the promises made to them. For 
their encouragement and assurance, a specimen had 
been given of the power and majesty of the kingdom 
to certain of the disciples, before whom Jesus was 
transfigured and appeared in glory, together with 
Moses and Elijah ; " and besides the earnest of a re- 
surrection, afforded by the rising again of Jesus from 
the dead, many of the saints had likewise at this 
period been raised up, and had appeared to certain 
in Jerusalem. 3 

One or two other peculiarities of the gospel now 
preached demand a brief notice, as distinguishing 
it from the law which previously existed. The trans- 
gressions under the law, and the natural rebellion 
and enmity of the heart to it, were now pressed to 
convince the hearer of his sinfulness by nature and 
by practice. Instead of the convinced and penitent 
sinner being then referred, as before, to the blood of 
bulls and of goats, he was pointed to the blood of 
Jesus as the only acceptable atonement. He was 
also shown the need of a spiritual regeneration of the 
heart, whereby it should be sanctified to the love of 
God ; and he was further taught to expect, by be- 

* Matt, xxiii. 38; xxiv. 1, 2. Luke xxi. 23, 24. 2 Compare 

2 Peter i. 16—18, with Matthew xvi. 27, 28; xvii. l— 8j Mark ix. 
1—8 ; Luke ix. 27—36. 3 Acts xxvi. 6—8. 


lieving in Jesus Christ, an effectual power to work 
inwardly in his soul, and conform him to the na- 
ture and image of that God who was to dwell with 
the saints in the day of the manifestation of his king- 
dom. In regard to the experience of this spiritual 
poiver among the disciples, the doctrine of the apos- 
tles was as superior to that of Moses, as the law pro- 
pounded by him excelled the religion of all other 
nations. By the Sinai dispensation the command- 
ment was only presented to the eye or the ear, with- 
out communicating to the soul any disposition to love 
it, or any power to obey it ; as the manifold rebellions 
of the nation had abundantly made evident. But by 
the new covenant that law was grafted by the Spirit 
in the heart; the believer in Jesus was led inwardly 
to delight in it; by the same Spirit he received 
strength to walk in habitual obedience to it, and to 
mortify all affections that were contrary to it. Nor 
was this doctrine put forth in words only. The power 
exhibited by the believers in Jesus, in casting out 
devils, healing the sick, raising the dead, and speak- 
ing with tongues, was not more clearly manifest than 
the power by which they were transformed from their 
previous corrupt conversation and depraved habits, 
and enabled to walk in newness of life, bringing forth 
those heavenly graces of the Spirit which had been 
witnessed in Jesus himself, and offering to Jehovah 
a continual sacrifice of praise. Both classes of mar- 
vels were tokens and foretastes of the kingdom of 
Christ and the powers of the world to come ; but 
the last was the most important, inasmuch as it 
formed the permanently distinguishing characteristic 
of Christ's religion, as compared with all other sys- 
tems of ethics, or with any corrupt modifications of 

2 F 



his own ; and it is utterly impossible for the reader to 
form any just notion of the real character of the refor- 
mation effecting at this period among the Jews, or of 
the spirit which now animated the followers of Jesus, 
unless these things are properly understood. 

The disciples, however, were not suffered to pursue 
their course unmolested. Not only was the faction 
which opposed Jesus alarmed and angered, to see the 
cause which they imagined they had crushed rise up 
and spread with increased power; but the Pharisees in 
particular were exasperated at the liberty proclaimed 
to the converts from their self-righteous and burden- 
some impositions ; and the Sadducees were mortified 
and confounded at the powerful testimony given to 
the doctrine of a resurrection, which they had alto- 
gether mocked at. And though the profane party 
among the Jews had persecuted the fanatics, and the 
fanatical had equally persecuted the profane, both 
sects now united in an impious attempt to suppress 
those who were the only true patriots, and labouring 
to bring back the nation to the proper knowledge of 
God. At first they threatened them only ; they next 
imprisoned and scourged them; and finding this in- 
sufficient to quench the zeal and intrepidity of the 
believers, they at length proceeded to put them to 
death. 1 A disciple named Stephen was the first that 
was called to the honour of martyrdom, which he en- 
dured in the same spirit of meekness as his master, 
and died praying for his persecutors. Numerous 
others were then punished, some being openly brought 
before the council of the nation and condemned ; 
others being subjected to a species of secret inquisi- 
tion in the synagogues of the different towns, where 

Acts iv. 17, 21 ; v. 18, 40; vii. 59 3 viii. 1 : ix. 1. 


the priests and rabbins arbitrarily, but more privately, 
inflicted punishment, unless the new doctrine were 
renounced. 1 The gall of religious jealousy not only 
blinded the judgment, but quenched all natural affec- 
tion. It was accounted a meritorious work to exhibit 
a furious rage and virulence against the Nazarenes, 
or Christians, as the disciples were afterwards called ; 
and the foremost to accuse or injure them were often 
their nearest relatives. 

The persecution was nevertheless overruled of God, 
both to purify the disciples from remaining attach- 
ment to this world, and to the increase also of their 
numbers. For as they fled into foreign countries for 
safety, they evangelized the Jews of Phoenicia, Cy- 
prus, Antioch, and other places, many of whom em- 
braced the faith of Jesus; and the inhabitants of Sa- 
maria also in great numbers received the doctrine of 
Christ, and were baptized. 

Another circumstance tended to increase the fol- 
lowers of Jesus. Among the most bigoted and infu- 
riated of their enemies was a Benjamite of Tarsus, in 
Cilicia, named Saul, a rigorous Pharisee, and the most 
distinguished disciple of the most distinguished of the 
rabbins, named Gamaliel. This man was arrested in 
his career of vehement persecution by a heavenly 
vision, in which the risen Jesus himself appeared to 
him; and the result was his conversion to the faith, and 
the turning of his great talents and powers towards the 
extension of that sect which he had previously sought 
to destroy. His knowledge of the traditions of the 
Jews enabled him to silence all opposers ; whilst the 
circumstance that the most notorious and active per- 

1 Mark xiii. 9 ; and see Dr. Wolff's Journal for 1822, who quotes 
Maimonides, Sanhed. p. 36, and Hilhoth. Mamrim, c. iii. 

2 F 2 


secutor of the Nazarenes was now transformed into a 
friend, amazed and confounded for awhile the Jews 
in general. But when by divine direction Saul, bet- 
ter known by the name of Paul, proceeded to evan- 
gelize the Gentiles, and to invite them to become 
partakers of the blessings and promises made to 
Abraham, upon equal terms with the Jews, and with- 
out the necessity of submitting to the rite of circum- 
cision, their anger burst forth again with fury against 
the disciples, and against Paul in particular. Even 
the christianized Jews found it difficult to divest 
themselves of prejudice against the incorporation of 
Gentile converts with themselves at the present time. 
They appear to have been under the impression, that 
Jesus would speedily reappear, and assert the domi- 
nion of Israel over all the nations of the world; and 
that it was not until this manifestation in glory of the 
kingdom of Messiah should have taken place, that the 
Gentiles would be generally converted. But at a coun- 
cil afterwards convened at Jerusalem, for the purpose 
of discussing this important question, and whether 
also the Gentile converts should be subjected to cir- 
cumcision, they were instructed, through the Spirit, 
that the purpose of God was for the present to take 
out of the Gentiles also an election, who (it appears 
from the writings of Paul) were to be incorporated 
and made one with the election from among the Jews, 
and hereafter to partake with them of all the pro- 
mises made to Abraham ; and that afterwards, when 
the Lord Jesus should return, the dynasty of David 
should be restored, all Israel converted, and then also 
the entire residue of the Gentiles. 1 

1 Compare Acts xv. 12—18. Matt. viii. 12.— 22 j iii. 5 6. 
Gal. iii. 29. Rom. ix. 6—8,- xi. 12—15, 25, 26. ' 


In regard to the political events of this period, 
Pilate, notwithstanding his unprincipled concessions 
to the Jews, failed in his endeavours to maintain his 
government. In the following year he was deposed 
from his office by Vitellius, the Roman prefect of 
Syria, and sent to Rome to answer the complaints of 
the Samaritans. The Jews, instead of befriending 
him on his trial, leaned against him; and he was 
banished to Vienne, a.d. 37, where his own hand ter- 
minated his miserable existence. Caiaphas, the high 
priest who condemned Jesus, was deposed by Vitel- 
lius at the same time. 1 

HEROD AGRIPPA.— [a.d. 38—45.] Marcellus 
was appointed successor to Pilate, and in the follow- 
ing year the regal authority was restored in the per- 
son of Herod Agrippa, the son of Aristobulus, one of 
the unfortunate sons of Herod the Great by Mari- 
amne. This prince had experienced great vicissi- 
tudes of life. In his early youth he was sent to Rome, 
where he became the friend of Drusus,the son of the 
emperor Tiberius ; which circumstance, instead of 
proving to his temporal advantage, was the occasion 
of serious misfortunes ; for on the premature death 
of Drusus, Tiberius was so affected, that he could not 
endure to see or to be memorialized by any of his 
son's friends, that he might not thereby have his grief 
for him revived : whereby he most inconsistently left 
many of those whom his son had loved in great diffi- 
culties. Among the number was Agrippa, who was 
likewise thoughtless and prodigal, soon squandering 
away what was lent to him ; by which means he was 
at length reduced to such straits, that he was on the 

1 Joseph. Ant. lib. xviii. c. 4. Euseb. Hist. Ec. lib. ii. c. 7. Lard- 
ner, vol. l, p. 337. 


point of committing suicide, but was restrained by 
his wife Cypros. He afterwards attached himself to 
Caius Caligula, whom Tiberius had nominated his 
successor; but having heedlessly expressed his wish 
that Tiberius were dead, it was reported to the em- 
peror, who ordered him to be imprisoned and bound 
with a heavy chain. On Caligula, however, becoming 
emperor, a.d. 38, he immediately released Agrippa, 
gave him a diadem, appointed him king of Judea, 
added to his dominions the territory of Philip the 
tetrarch, who had died in the preceding year, and 
presented him with a chain of gold, of equal weight 
with the iron one with which he had been bound. This 
chain Agrippa hung up in the treasury of the temple, 
to remind him of the instability of human affairs. 

On the arrival of Herod in the following year to 
take possession of his kingdom, the Jews, who knew 
little of him, were taken by surprise ; but the pleas- 
ing and conciliatory deportment of their new king, 
and the fact that he was descended from the Asmo- 
deans by the mother's side, soon rendered him popu- 
lar. Herod Antipas, the tetrarch of Galilee, remem- 
bering the former distresses of Agrippa, affected to 
laugh at his present elevation, but secretly envied it, 
and repaired to Rome for the twofold purpose of soli- 
citing the regal title for himself and of injuring his 
rival. But Agrippa, being warned of him, also went 
to Rome, and accused Antipas of a treasonable cor- 
respondence with the Parthians, and with having 
secretly collected arms for seventy thousand men ; 
the latter of which charges being proved, Antipas was 
banished to Lyons, and his tetrarchy and property 
given to Agrippa. Thus, having experienced a signal 
disaster after his murder of John the Baptist, he was 


likewise overtaken by condign punishment after his 
derision and mockery of Jesus. 

But Caligula proved a troublesome and dangerous 
friend to the subjects of Agrippa. A bad feeling had 
grown up betwesn the Jews of Alexandria and the 
Greeks, which had been aggravated by the unprin- 
cipled conduct of the Roman prefect, Flaccus. About 
a.d. 42, a deputation of the Alexandrian Jews, headed 
by Philo the historian, went to Rome to complain of 
the Greeks; who thereupon accused the Jews in turn 
of refusing divine honours to the emperor. Caligula, 
who was half a madman, and ambitious of being 
esteemed a god, was mortified at their conduct, and 
sent peremptory orders to Petronius, the prefect of 
Syria, to set up his statue in the sanctuary of the 
temple at Jerusalem. As soon as it was known that 
such an order had arrived, a great ferment was ex- 
cited among the Jews throughout the country. All 
business and labour was suspended ; and the people 
went about clothed in sackcloth, with ashes on their 
heads. Thousands declared themselves determined 
to die, if the decree were enforced, and besieging the 
tribunal of Petronius, bared their necks and pre- 
sented their throats for the sword. By the interces- 
sion of Agrippa, who went to Rome on the occasion, 
the imperial mandate was recalled ; but on a fresh 
provocation given to Caligula, it was soon after re- 
issued with greater imperiousness than before ; inso- 
much that Petronius, presuming to delay for awhile, 
got himself into a situation of great peril. He was 
relieved however from the danger, and the Jews from 
their apprehensions, by the death of Caligula, who 
was assassinated in the same year. 

Agrippa happening to be at Rome on the above- 


named occasion, took a prominent part in persuading 
Claudius to accept the purple, and was by Claudius 
in return elevated to the rank of a consul of Rome, 
—an unusual dignity to be borne by a Jewish prince! 
He likewise presented him with the province of Sa- 
maria, and all the remaining territories that had 
belonged to his grandfather, Herod. But though 
possessed of the dominions, he was far from enjoyin«* 
the power and authority exercised by his great an- 
cestor; for not only the emperors of Rome, but the 
prefects of Syria, and even the procurators of Judea, 
now often interfered in an imperious manner. Of 
this Herod had mortifying proofs from Marsus, who 
was appointed prefect by Claudius, and who sternly 
forbade him to raise the walls of Jerusalem, which he 
was about to effect. Marsus likewise peremptorily 
ordered to their homes several princes, who were 
being entertained by Agrippa at Tiberias. 

Agrippa, though popular with the Jews, was never- 
theless destitute of religious principle. To gratify the 
Herodian party he encouraged theatrical exhibitions, 
and combats of gladiators ; but discovering that he 
thereby offended the Pharisees and zealots, he next, 
in order to gratify them, aided the persecution against 
the followers of Jesus. He apprehended and put to 
death James, one of the twelve apostles; and per- 
ceiving that this gave satisfaction to the Jews, he 
next seized Peter, another of the apostles, and would 
likewise have executed him, had not God, in answer 
to the prayers of the Christian Jews, miraculously 
delivered him from prison. But Agrippa was imme- 
diately requited. For having received a deputation 
from Tyre and Sidon in public, and made an harangue 
on the occasion, charmed with his eloquence, the peo- 


pie shouted, and declared that it was the voice of a 
god. Agrippa accepted the flattery, bat was in the 
same hour smitten with a disease in the 'entrails, 
which compelled him to withdraw from the assembly, 
and he died a few days afterwards in great agony, 
eaten up of worms. 1 

In the same year Palestine was visited by a griev- 
ous famine, which was not only a chastisement on the 
nation for its sins, but one of the tokens of the ap- 
proaching desolation of Jerusalem, which had been 
predicted by Jesus. (Matt. xxiv. 7. Acts xi. 28.) 

AGRIPPA II. [a.d. 45-53.]— Claudius, the Ro- 
man emperor, though friendly disposed toward the 
family of Agrippa, considered his son, who bore the 
same name, too young to hold the reins of govern- 
ment; being at the time of his father's decease only 
seventeen years of age. He therefore placed Judea 
for a while under the more immediate controul of 
Cassius Longinus, the prefect of Syria, and Cuspius 
Fadus the governor of Jerusalem. But two years 
afterwards, he set the young Agrippa on the throne 
with a limited territory ; and six years after that 
gave him the entire dominions of his father.. Agrippa 
was scarcely in the throne than that series of misun- 
derstandings with the Romans commenced, which 
contributed to bring on the war with them. The 
Jews, on their part, stirred up by the fanatics, be- 
came increasingly insolent and contemptuous to- 

1 Josephus relates, that when Agrippa was in prison at Rome, a 
German soothsayer, observing an owl, declared that he would soon be 
set at liberty, and raised to the highest honours j but that he would die 
within five days after seeing this bird again. The elevation followed 
as predicted ; and Josephus adds, that on the day, on which Agrippa 
received the Syrian deputies, he beheld the owl sitting on a cord over 
his head. (Ant. lib.xix. c. 7, 8.) 


wards the Gentiles ; and whilst the state of morals 
among themselves was such as to cause the Mosaical 
religion to be everywhere misapprehended, and the 
name of Jehovah to be blasphemed, 1 they manifested 
their dislike of idolatry by the most scornful expres- 
sions and gestures. Their hatred likewise of the 
Christian Jews rendered them turbulent ; insomuch 
that they often beset the Gentile tribunals with cla- 
morous importunity against them ; and when they 
failed in procuring their condemnation, they inflicted 
summary vengeance themselves,— sometimes under 
the very eye of the Roman authorities. 2 Another 
cause of their increasing insolence and turbulence 
was the excitement in which they were continually 
kept, by their fond expectation of another Messiah 
than Jesus ; at whose appearance they still hoped to 
go. forth and trample down the Gentiles. In this ex- 
pectation they were encouraged by the false prophets 
among them, and by the zealots, who taught them to 
view all other people as enemies. Claudius, though 
he was forbearing to the Jews on Agrippa's account, 
had nevertheless, in the same year that he gave him 
the dominions of his father, been obliged to expel 
them from Rome for these causes ; previous to which, 
on restoring the Jews of Alexandria to privileges of 
which they had been for awhile deprived, he found 
it needful to admonish them in his edict to behave 
themselves decorously to persons of opposite reli- 
gion. 3 

On the other hand, the Gentiles were not backward 
in evincing their contempt for the Jews. 4 The learned 
derided them in epigrams and satires ; the illiterate, 

1 Rom. ii. 19—24. 2 Actsxviii. 12—17; xxi. 35. 3 Acts xviii. 2. 
Suet, in Claud, xxxv. « Tacit. Hist. lib. v. Philost. Vit. Apol. v. 2. 


and especially the soldiery , betrayed their aversion in a 
more brutal manner, their officers being sometimes dis- 
inclined, and sometimes unable, to repress their licen- 
tiousness. One or two circumstances of this kind hap- 
pened in the year of Agrippa's accession. Fadus, the 
Roman governor of Jerusalem, had been succeeded in 
the following year by Tiberius Alexander, nephew of 
the celebrated Philo, and an apostate from the Jewish 
faith, who was so odious to the Jews on that account, 
that he was in the next year withdrawn, and suc- 
ceeded by Ventidius Cumanus. At the ensuing feast 
of the passover, one of the soldiers, stationed at the 
gates of the temple to prevent disorder, exposed him- 
self naked, in contempt of the festival. A tumult 
following, Cumanus ordered out the troops, and their 
appearance creating an apprehension of a massacre, 
the people fled in all directions, pursued by the sol- 
diery, and treading down one another. On this occa- 
sion, ten thousand Jews lost their lives. Shortly after, 
another soldier, who had obtained a copy of the 
Pentateuch, publicly destroyed it with blasphemous 
expressions. This occasioned another riot, in which 
the Jews suffered ; though Cumanus, in this instance, 
ordered the offender to be beheaded. After this the 
Samaritans murdered a Jew of Galilee, and were ac- 
cused before Cumanus ; but he, having been bribed 
by the Samaritans, turned a deaf ear to the com- 
plaints of the Jews : upon which some of the more 
turbulent resolved to take vengeance into their own 
hands ; and, placing themselves under the guidance 
of two captains of banditti, attacked the Samaritans. 
Cumanus soon overpowered them, killing many and 
taking the rest prisoners ; but the Galileans were 
only more irritated thereby, and forming themselves 


into armed bands, they further increased the hordes 
of brigands with which their country was infested. 

By these and other circumstances, a lawless and 
ruffian spirit was daily increasing. The Pharisees 
were daily becoming more imbued with the doctrines 
of the zealots ; the avowed zealots had become iden- 
tified with the principles and practices of the Gau- 
ionites ; whilst from among these there now arose a 
still fiercer sect, who held it lawful to kill all who 
were opposed to the religion or interests of Israel- 
all, in fact, who became obnoxious to themselves. 
They were bound to each other by secret oaths, and 
carried a short dagger, called sica, beneath their gar- 
ments, from whence they obtained the name of Sicariu 
Persons were struck dead by them whilst walking in 
the streets, or even worshipping in the temple; and 
though the murderers were often known, yet the fear 
of becoming the next victims to their vengeance pre- 
vented the observers from bringing the actual perpe- 
trators to j ustice. Th us were those principles, which 
appeared plausible in the bud, found, when circum- 
stances had more fully developed them, to be pro- 
ductive of the deadliest fruits. 

[a.d. 53— 66.]— This gloomy state of affairs was 
greatly increased by the conduct of the procurators 
who now succeeded Cumanus. These were Felix, 
Festus, Albinus and FJorus, men of rapacious, cruel, 
perfidious, and profligate character; whose proceed- 
ings were suited to remind the Jews of the curse de- 
nounced by their own Psalmist on the betrayers and 
murderers of the Messiah,— viz. that wicked rulers 
should be set over them, and Satan should stand at 
their right hand ; » for these men proved both scourges 
l Psalm cix. 5, &c. and compare Romans xi. 9, 10. 


in themselves, and snares and gins whereby the peo- 
ple were provoked to desperate proceedings. 

Felix, the first of these, was an enfranchised slave 
of Claudius, of whom Tacitus observes, that with the 
true genius of a slave he exercised the tyranny of an 
eastern despot. 1 During the seven years that he 
was governor, he availed himself of every imagin- 
able pretext to plunder the Jews ; and on being 
remonstrated with by Jonathan the high priest, 
who was his friend, and had been the principal cause 
of his elevation, he hired a band of Sicarii, who 
fell upon Jonathan in the court of the temple, 
during the solemnities of public worship, and mur- 
dered him. The deed struck the whole nation with 
horror ; no instance had occurred of a pontiff being 
thus cut off; neither could an act be conceived, more 
inconsistent with the alleged principles of those who 
perpetrated it. 

Festus was removed and died in the same year that 
he was appointed governor; but not until he had 
evinced the like profligate determination to enrich 
himself at any sacrifice of character. He found the 
priests engaged in a tithe war among themselves ; 
the chief priests endeavouring to exact from the 
inferior priests so large a portion of the offerings and 
dues, as to leave them almost without a maintenance. 
From the strife of words they proceeded to blows ; 
and the courts of the temple were often polluted with 
their blood ; of which quarrels Festus took advantage 
to serve his own interests. 

He was followed by Albinus, who exceeded both 
his predecessors in atrocity. During one of the festi- 
vals, some brigands seized and carried off the son of 

i Hist. v. 9- 


the high priest Ananias, at the same time sending 
the father word, that he should be liberated, if Ana- 
nias would first procure the release of ten of their 
associates recently apprehended by Albinus. The 
governor, for the sake of the proffered bribe, granted 
the request of Ananias ; after which the robbers, 
emboldened by the success of their stratagem, seized 
the members of wealthy families, whensoever any of 
their own bands were imprisoned; whilst Albinus, 
finding this an easy method of acquiring wealth, in- 
stead of endeavouring to suppress the banditti, sought 
only to apprehend them. 

Under Albinus two other circumstances contri- 
buted to increase the number of brigands. The rage 
for building had never declined since the days of 
Herod. New cities and villas had continued to spring 
up ; and men gazed at and boasted of the edifices 
and embellishments on every side, unwilling to be- 
lieve, though warned by the Christian Jews, that the 
day was hastening on which would not leave one 
stone upon another. 1 Albinus improvidently dis- 
charged eighteen thousand artificers and labourers 
from the public works in one day; who, being unable 
to obtain employment, for the most part became free- 
booters. The other circumstance which increased 
their number was, that, hearing of his recal, Albinus 
released all the prisoners in his possession, of what- 
soever description, who could only find means to pay 
something for their liberty ; whereby he again let loose 
upon society almost the entire of the vagabonds and 
criminals with which the jails were filled. 

There were likewise continually arising impostors, 
who taking advantage of the feverish expectation of 
i Acts vi. 14. 


their Messiah, were permitted repeatedly to delude 
those who had rejected the true Christ; as he had 
warned them would be the case. 1 Some of these 
drew together a large number of armed followers, 
besides the greater multitude who secretly or more 
quietly favoured them; among whom may be in- 
stanced Theudas, 2 who in the time of Fadus promised 
to divide the waters of Jordan, as Joshua had done ; 
but was slain instead, and his head exhibited on the 
walls of Jerusalem. Another, an Egyptian Jew. 3 
arose in the time of Felix, and raised a band of thirty 
thousand armed followers, whom he led to the mount 
of Olives, assuring them that the walls of Jerusalem 
were to fall down flat, like another Jericho. But 
Felix scattered them to the winds. Festus destroyed 
another, who had drawn together a multitude in the 
desert ; notwithstanding which repeated failures, the 
infatuation and delusion still continued ; whilst the 
remainder of their adherents, when routed or dis- 
persed, finding themselves unsettled for the sober 
pursuits of life, commonly served to swell the num- 
ber of the brigands. 

About a.d. 64 or 65, Gessius Florus was appointed 
procurator, the last and the worst governor of all. 
His conduct was so flagitious that Albinus now ap- 
peared in the comparison a righteous man. He 
directly abetted the banditti, on condition of divid- 
ing the plunder wjth them ; and cared not what out- 
rages they committed, so that he was but a partici- 
pator in the spoil. Neither did he take any pains to 
conceal his proceedings ; his object being, by a sys- 
tematic course of injustice, oppression, and insult, to 
provoke the Jews into rebellion, thereby to obtain 

1 John v. 43. Matt. xxiv. 5. 2 Acts v. 36. 3 Acts xxi. 38. 


a pretext for more extensive pillage, and a blind to 
cover his enormities. Many of the Jews sought a 
refuge from his tyranny in other countries ; whilst 
the more wealthy who remained adopted the dan- 
gerous expedient of hiring bands of ruffians for their 
own defence, whom they afterwards found employ- 
ment for, in attacking those who were opposed to them 
on political or religious grounds. Among those, who 
thus became virtually captains of banditti, were Cos- 
tobar and Saul, of the royal family, and Ananias, the 
late high priest ; thus literally fulfilling the words of 
their prophet, — "Thy princes are rebellious and com- 
panions of -thieves." (Isa. i. 25.) 

This Ananias was a profligate Sadducee, but pos- 
sessed of immense wealth, by means of which he had 
procured the pontificate. He greatly promoted the 
persecution of the Christian Jews ; and in the time of 
Albinus had procured the condemnation, by the San- 
hedrim, of James, another eminent disciple of that 
name, who was cast down from the battlements of 
the temple, and not being killed by the fall was then 
stoned. But owing to the extensive benevolence and 
goodness of James, who was surnamed the Just, the 
act was not popular, and Ananias was deposed for it 
by Agrippa. 

Under the government of Felix the eminent Paul 
had likewise been seized in the temple, and would 
have been killed, but for the intervention of the Ro- 
man officer then commanding, who nevertheless de- 
tained him, under the impression that he was one of 
the false Messiah. 1 Forty of the Sicarii then laid a 

1 Up to this period it does not appear that the Christian Jews were 
persecuted by the Gentiles as Christians. Owing to the slanders of 
their Jewish brethren, the Gentiles appear to have regarded them 


plot to assassinate Paul while yet in custody; but 
the centurion, obtaining information of their design, 
sent his prisoner by night to Felix, who was at Ca3- 
sarea. Felix was persuaded of his innocence of the 
things alleged against him ; yet, hoping to be bribed 
by Paul or his friends, he examined and remanded 
him several times, 1 and finally left him to Festus. 
This governor was inclined to be bribed by the Jews 
to condemn Paul; on which the latter stood on his 
privilege as a freeman of Rome, and appealed to the 
tribunal of Nero. Previous however to his being 
sent thither he was examined before Agrippa, who 
came to pay his compliments to Festus on his ap- 
pointment; on which occasion Paul so powerfully 
set forth the facts which had led to his own conver- 
sion, that Agrippa declared himself almost persuaded 
to become a Christian. Festus being immediately 
after recalled, Aibinus his successor sent Paul to 
Rome; where he brought his doctrine before the im- 
perial court, and finally obtained his liberty. He 

only as the more seditious and fanatical class of Jews; and the ex- 
pression which Tacitus applies to them, " in odio humani generis con- 
victi," is a manifest confusion of them with the Gaulonites and Zea- 
lots, who at this time actually professed to hate all mankind hut the 
Jews. (Tac. Ann. xv. 44.) Gibbon's remarks on this subject are 
worthy of notice ; who also shews, from a passage in Suetonius, (in 
Claud, c. 25.) that the Jews and Christians of Rome were confounded 
as one. (Vol. ii. p. 401.) See also Acts xviii. 14, 15; xxi. 38 j xxiii. 
29, &c. On the other hand the Jews were often thought better of by 
the piously disposed Gentiles j who considered the Christians as only 
a more spiritual sect of the Jews. 

1 It was on one of these occasions that Paul caused Felix to trem- 
ble, when he pressed on his conscience the need of righteousness and 
continence (eyKpareia), and warned him of the judgment to come. 
For Felix was living in adultery with Drusilla, a Jewess, whom he 
had seduced from her husband. The impression however was evan- 
escent, and the immoral connexion persisted in ; until about four 
years afterwards Drusilla and her son were overwhelmed by an 
eruption of Mount Vesuvius. (Jos. Ant. xx. c. 7,) 
2 G 


was however soon after apprehended again, and put 
to death, in the absence of Nero, by Helius Caesari- 
anus, his prefect. Peter was executed about two 
years afterwards. 

In the second year of the procuratorship of Florus, 
Cestius Gallus, who was then prefect of Syria, came 
up to Jerusalem during the passover. He no sooner 
appeared in public, than he was besieged by the 
Jews with vehement complaints against Florus; who 
stood by laughing, and affecting an air of indiffer- 
ence and contempt. Cestius amused them by ex- 
pressing his hope, that they would have no further 
cause for dissatisfaction, and left them without re- 
dress. The discontent which this conduct of Cestius 
occasioned was greatly increased by his representa- 
tions to the imperial court, in a cause then pending 
between the Jews and the Gentile inhabitants of 
Coesarea. Both parties laid claim to the city ; and 
frequent disputes and collisions had taken place 
between them. The Jews had the undeniable and 
conclusive arguments on their side, that Caesarea 
was built by their king, in their territory, and with 
their money. The Syrians and Greeks had no argu- 
ment beyond the fact, that there were temples and 
statues in the city, which the Jews' religion did not 
tolerate. The most intense interest was excited by 
this cause, and the Jews were confident that it must 
be decided in their favour; but owing to the state- 
ments of Cestius to Nero, and the persuasions of 
his tutor Burrhus, who was bribed by the Greeks, 
judgment was finally given against them. 

[a.d. 66 — 71.] — The wrongs and injustice, which 
had been heaped by the rulers upon their Messiah, 
were now manifestly beginning to be repaid upon 


their own heads, and upon the nation in general. 
No grievance was redressed ; no complaint was lis- 
tened to: if their great men entreated favour, it 
exposed them to certain insult; if they ventured to 
remonstrate, they were answered by stripes, impri- 
sonment and death. Florus had made various ex- 
tortionate demands upon the people in the shape of 
tribute ; and hearing, upon one of these occasions, 
that he had been ridiculed at Jerusalem, he went 
thither in great fury with his legions, rode over the 
people who came out to meet him, committed various 
enormities, and endeavoured to take the treasury by 
a surprise ; in which enterprise he failed, only through 
the Jews blocking up the approaches to it by masses 
of living beings, who resolved to be sacrificed rather 
than that he should succeed. Encouraged by what 
they had witnessed of the disposition and conduct of 
the Romans, the Greeks and Syrians also, in those 
cities where there were Jewish colonies, rose up and 
attacked them ; presuming that it would recommend 
them to that iron power which now ruled the world, 
or at least that it would be passed over with impunity. 
By these they were in several instances plundered 
and massacred ; in some cases having been first de- 
coyed into their grasp by the basest perfidy. 

It was whilst they were groaning under this ty- 
ranny and persecution that the news arrived of their 
ill success in the dispute with Caesarea ; upon which 
the spirit of revolt, which had been smothering with- 
in, burst out into a flame. The war faction had been 
rapidly increasing for some time ; but the aristocracy, 
the wealthy, the influential, the timid and the peaceful 
formed altogether a powerful and numerous party 
who deprecated war. They felt keenly the indigni- 
2 G 2 


ties and injuries which they had to endure from the 
Roman authorities; but they saw at the same time 
the hopelessness of resistance, and the certainty that 
an unsuccessful attempt would bring upon them only 
still greater calamities. Their rulers therefore went 
about beseeching the people to submit; and even 
Agrippa, to whom little more than the name of king 
now belonged, mingled his entreaties with those of 
the nobility. But the bond of union between the 
people and their rulers had been severed by oppres- 
sion ; and Agrippa had rendered himself unpopular, 
from having built a palace which overlooked the 
courts of the temple ; and then, when the priests 
erected a wall to intercept the view, from having re- 
tired toBerytus, (the modern Beyrout) which he made 
his residence. Nevertheless, he was well received ; 
and on his representing to the people, that to repair 
the damage they had already committed, and to col- 
lect the tribute they had refused, were the only means 
of saving their temple and city from destruction, they 
obeyed. But when he next proceeded to recommend 
that they should welcome Florus, who was expected 
from Caesarea, with the usual courtesies, they broke 
out into a yell of execration, assailed Agrippa with 
stones, and drove him out of the city. 

The war party were sensible that they were now 
committed, and that none but determined measures 
could avail them. Eleazar, a son of Ananias, and 
president of the Sanhedrim, put himself at the head 
of the insurgents; and, in order to compromise the 
nation still further, persuaded the priests to discon- 
tinue the usual sacrifices for the emperor, and to allow 
no heathens in future to offer their oblations. This 
resolution, so impious toward God and " contrary to 


all men," appears to have sealed their fate. Jose- 
ph us attributes the calamities, which afterwards 
came upon them, to the anger of God for the murder 
of Jonathan the high priest, and the atrocities com- 
mitted by the Sicarii ; l but we have more certain au- 
thority for stating, that the real cause of their trouble 
was their rejection of Jesus, their true high priest. 
And though the fact mentioned by Josephus was 
doubtless a fruit of their being for this offence given 
tip to blindness, yet from the same infallible source 
we learn, that the sins, which more immediately filled 
up the measure of their iniquity, and brought wrath 
upon them to the uttermost, were, first, their persecu- 
tion of those followers of Jesus who were of their own 
nation ; and secondly, their bitter and malignant oppo- 
sition to the preaching of the gospel to the Gentiles ; 
in which same spirit of intolerance and contrariety 
the proposition of Eieazar was adopted. 2 

The advocates of peace, fearing the consequences 
of this measure, and finding themselves unable to 
control the furious enthusiasm of the insurgents, dis- 
patched messengers to Florus and Agrippa, stating 
that the preservation of Jerusalem to the Romans de- 
pended on immediate succour. Agrippa accordingly 
sent them three thousand troops without delay ; but 
the insurgents, led on by Eieazar, took possession of 
the temple, defeated the troops of Agrippa with much 
loss, shut up the remainder in the palace, and be- 

l Ant. xx. 8, 9. 
2 Compare 1 Thess. ii. 15, 16, with Matt, xxiii. 32—39; xxiv. 1,2. 
Luke xi. 49, 50. Acts vii. 51—54. Tacitus and Josephus both assign 
the same political circumstances as bringing on the war ; in which 
they were probably correct : viz. the oppressive tyranny and insati- 
able avarice of Florus, and the disputes respecting Csesarea. (Jos. 
Ant. xx. 8, 9; de Bell. ii. 13. Tac. Ann. xx. 23. Hist. v. 10.) 


sieged the Romans in the castles of Herod and An- 
tonia. At the end of two days Antonia was taken 
by assault, and the garrison put to the sword. 

Whilst these things were transacting in the capital, 
Menahern, a son of Judas the Gaulonite, surprised 
the strong fortress of Massada on the dead sea ; and 
having found there a large quantity of arms, he col- 
lected and equipped a numerous body of adherents, 
and assuming the title of king, hastened to Jerusalem. 
He was there welcomed with loud acclamations, 
and immediately invested with the chief command. 
The troops of Agrippa then offered to capitulate, and 
were permitted to quit the city in safety ; after which 
the insurgents set fire to the palaces of Agrippa and 
the high priest; and Ananias himself, the persecutor 
of the Christian Jews, being found concealed in an 
aqueduct, was dragged forth and put to death. They 
likewise burnt the record office, containing the regis- 
tries and the bonds of the rich men ; whereby they 
both weakened the power of the wealthy, and attached 
the debtors to the war party. 

The Roman garrison in the castle of Herod, being: 
unprovided for a siege, and likewise closely pressed, 
next offered to surrender, on condition of being per- 
mitted to withdraw in safety from the city. The 
terms were accepted and sworn to by the insurgent 
chiefs; and the ensuing sabbath was chosen by the 
enemy for carrying the treaty into effect, in the expec- 
tation that they were not likely on that day to be 
molested in their retreat. No sooner, however, had 
they deposited their arms, than the Jews fell upon 
and treacherously slew them, with the exception of 
their commander, who, crying out that he would sub- 
mit to circumcision, was spared upon those terms. 


But neither this deed nor the murder of Ananias 
were approved by the more moderate, even of their 
own party ; and though the insurgents had now com- 
plete possession of the city, gloom and dissatisfaction 
prevailed. The arrogant deportment also of Mena- 
hem, and his presumption in assuming the purple, 
gave offence; taking advantage of which, Eleazar, 
who regarded him with jealousy, contrived to slay 

In the meanwhile Floras, on receiving intelligence 
of the rebellion, secretly exulted at the opportunity 
it seemingly presented of more largely gratifying his 
rapacity. His first step was to excite the inhabitants 
of Ceesarea to rise, who consequently slew the Jews 
to the number of twenty thousand, and the rest were 
sent to the gallies. By a remarkable coincidence 
this massacre happened at the very hour when the 
Romans were perfidiously butchered at Jerusalem. 
The Jews however overlooked the moral lesson set 
before them by Providence therein ; and perceiving 
in this event only another proof that they were 
proscribed by the whole world, they desperately re- 
solved to declare war against the world. 

They now became anxious to increase their party. 
Persons of the first distinction in Jerusalem were 
thrown into prison and their houses plundered, if they 
evinced themselves unfavourable to the cause ; whilst 
in the country the fanatics laid waste the property of 
such, and cruelly treated the owners. They likewise 
assaulted and captured several important fortresses 
and cities ; and conformably with their defiance of 
the Gentile world, they burst forth upon the neigh- 
bouring Greek and Syrian cities, many of which they 
captured, and some they burnt; inflicting at the same 


time a terrible vengeance on those who had risen 
against their countrymen. 

These important successes, and the rapid spread of 
the flame of insurrection, at length aroused Cestius 
Gallus, the prefect of Syria. Aided by Agrippa and 
the neighbouring princes, who furnished him with 
large contingents of troops, he collected an army 
amounting to between thirty and forty thousand men, 
of whom ten thousand were Romans. With this force 
he advanced from Ptolemais on Jerusalem. But his 
conduct was both barbarous and impolitic : whether 
the cities lying on his march opened their gates to or 
resisted him, he equally put the inhabitants thereof 
to death, and gave up their houses to pillage ; whereby 
he determined numbers of the wavering Jews to join 
the insurgents. 

On his arrival in the neighbourhood of Bethhoron, 
about eight miles from Jerusalem, the Jews, who 
were congregated in the capital to celebrate the feast 
of tabernacles, rushed out in countless multitudes, 
and attacked him with such irresistible impetuosity, 
that they defeated him with the loss of 500 men in 
killed, and would probably have destroyed his entire 
army, had not darkness put an end to the conflict. 
Cestius was so intimidated by this reverse, that he 
remained three days motionless. He was encouraged, 
however, by the peace party, with whom he secretly 
corresponded, to approach the city; but the insur- 
gents, discovering that there was a conspiracy to 
open the gates to him, seized the ringleaders, and 
cast them headlong from the walls. Cestius never- 
theless set fire to the buildings in the suburbs, and 
invested the upper city : * after which he pressed the 
1 Jerusalem consisted of three cities, each having three separate 


siege with vigour for several days, and was on the 
point of having the gates thrown open to him by the 
moderate party, when, either from panic, or some 
other cause which has never been explained, he sud- 
denly drew off his forces and retreated to Scopos, and 
the next day to Gabao, at the entrance of the difficult 
passes of Bethhoron. The Jews sallied forth and 
pursued him. The recollection that in those same 
passes Joshua had, in a former period of their history, 
destroyed the forces of five Canaanitish kings, would 
serve to excite their enthusiasm to the highest pitch. 
The result was, that Cestius sustained a series of dis- 
asters, which terminated in his entire defeat. He 
lost the whole of his military engines, (a seasonable 
prize to the Jews) together with all his baggage, 
about the half of his army were killed, and he arrived 
at Antipatris, with the other half, routed and pursued 
by the Jews to the very gates. 1 

This remarkable success of the Jews, at a time 
when they were nevertheless devoted to destruction, 
invites a more particular notice. God appears to 
have had two objects to accomplish by it; the first of 
which was the deliverance of the followers of Jesus. 
Up to this period, although the nation was, in the 
mass, evidently ripening for destruction, the gather- 
ing out of the electionVas nevertheless going for- 
ward ; and the Christian Jews continued to form a 
spiritual sanctuary at Jerusalem, though in the 

walls, and each being built on separate hills. To the south was Zion, 
which being the highest was called the upper city. In the centre was 
Acra, which being lower than Zion, was called the lower city. Con- 
nected with this, yet having distinct fortifications, was mount Moriah, 
on which stood the temple. Northward was Bezetha, which signifies 
the new city, from its having been the last buiit. 
1 Tacit. Hist. v. 19. 


midst, as has been seen, of persecution and reproach. 
But the Messiah, in whom they trusted, when he 
warned them of the coming wrath, gave them direc- 
tions likewise, that when they should see Jerusalem 
compassed with armies, they should seize the first 
opportunity to escape. These instructions would 
appear perplexing, previous to the retreat of Cestius ; 
for to escape from a city invested on all sides with 
troops must, under any circumstances, be hazardous, 
and in most cases impracticable. But the retreat of 
Cestius, in the manner related, and his subsequent 
defeat, gave the disciples ample opportunity to quit 
Jerusalem ; which they failed not to take advantage 
of, and retired to Pella, a city in the mountains. 1 

The other object apparently was, to bring the long 
pending wrath upon the nation more generally. 
Facts at least evince that it proved a snare to 
multitudes, who still hung back and hesitated what 
course to take, until the victories of the insurgents 
decided them. Both these, and such as were yet 
desirous of peace, were far from guiltless of the sins 
of their nation. They were, for the most part, of 
that temporizing class, who form in general the inert 
mass of society; who failed to assert the, principles 
of truth and righteousness, when it was their duty to 
God and their country to have done so ; who, had 
they stood forward, when the enemies of Jesus were 
clamorous against him, would have prevented that 
faction from prevailing ; but having by their supine- 

i It is probable that these are the persons mentioned by Josephus, 
who says— That many Jews, dreading the retribution of the Romans, 
forsook the city at this time, amid the derision and contempt of the 
exulting Zealots. The Christians at Pella continued to call them- 
selves " the Church of Jerusalem," and remained there for about sixty 
years, when they returned. (Euseb. lib. iii. 5.) 


ness given boldness to the wicked, and suffered un- 
godliness to grow to an incurable height, they were 
now involved in those very dangers, which, when 
at a distance, they had looked upon with indifference 
or unbelief. 

The news of the disasters which had attended the 
Roman arms, and the formidable character of the 
revolt, created a great sensation at Rome ; insomuch 
that the emperor Nero deemed it expedient to com- 
mission Vespasian, the most able commander of the 
day, to repair immediately to Palestine; whilst Cestius 
and Florus, who richly deserved it for their crimes, 
were called to answer for their misconduct before 
the imperial and now exasperated tyrant. Cestius 
threw the blame of the revolt on Florus, but died 
from excitement and vexation, before his sentence 
was pronounced. The end of Florus is not recorded. 

In the meanwhile the Jews were not idle during 
the respite afforded them. They obtained possession 
of all Judea and Galilee, with many cities in other 
districts. The Idumeans and Samaritans likewise 
revolted, though the latter did not unite with the 
Jews. Various persons were nominated as comman- 
ders, the most distinguished of whom was Joseph, 
a priest, better known as Flavius Josephus, the cele- 
brated Jewish historian. According to his account 
of himself he was possessed of great eloquence, 
ability, energy, military skill, bravery and patriotism. 
He raised a hundred thousand men in Galilee, to 
which province he was appointed ; put the cities into 
a good state of defence; constructed implements 
and engines of war, and disciplined his troops after 
the Roman method of fighting. But his efforts were 
greatly impeded by John of Gischala, a subtle and 


daring bandit, who, having joined the insurgents 
with several thousand men, in the hope of obtaining 
supreme power, laid continual snares for Josephus, 
whom he regarded as a rival aspirant for the crown. 

In the following year, matters being in this state, 
Vespasian entered Palestine at the head of a formid- 
able army, consisting of sixty thousand regular 
troops, which were reinforced on his arrival by 
Agrippa and other princes. The Jews were disin- 
clined to give him battle in the open field, and the 
vast army of Josephus actually dispersed and fled at 
the news of his approach ; but they nevertheless re- 
tired to the towns and fortresses, and there fought 
with the same desperate valour, though not with the 
same success, as in the campaign with Cestius. Ves- 
pasian proceeded with caution, resolved to reduce 
the fortresses and towns, before he attempted Jeru- 
salem. All fell before him, and the Jews were 
punished with a severity that evinced the exaspera- 
tion of the Romans, at the recent disgrace sustained 
by their arms. Vespasian's first act of vengeance 
was at Gadara, which place he took, and slew all, 
without distinction of age or sex, as also in the re- 
gion round about; insomuch that many populous 
villages were left without inhabitant. This was 
probably intended to strike terror in the onset ; but 
the Christian reader will at the same time remember, 
that these were the people who collectively had en- 
treated Jesus to depart out of their coasts. Josephus 
threw himself into Jotopata, which held out during a 
siege of six weeks, in the course of which the gar- 
rison performed extraordinary feats of valour, and 
Josephus exhibited a fertility of stratagem and re- 
sources, which drew forth the admiration of the 


enemy. But the fortress was nevertheless taken, 
forty thousand males put to the sword, and the wo- 
men and children sold into captivity. Josephus 
however contrived to save his own life ; for being 
discovered in a cavern, he demanded an interview 
with Vespasian, alleging that he had something im- 
portant to communicate; and on being taken in 
chains into the presence of the general, be assumed 
the air of a prophet, and predicted that Vespasian 
would ascend the imperial throne. He was imme~ 
diately treated with respect, and when the prediction 
was afterwards verified, was much honoured both by 
Vespasian and his son Titus. 1 

Similar tragedies with that at Gadara and Joto- 
pata were enacted at Japha, Tarichea, Gamala, Gis- 

1 Dion. Cass. lxvi. Tac.hist. i. 10; Joseph de Bell. iii. 8. Josephus 
relates some marvellous circumstances connected with his conceal- 
ment in the cavern, which was at the bottom of a dry well. But there 
are many things in that portion of the writings of this author, con- 
cerning his own proceedings at this period, which must be received 
with caution. He was first of the peace faction ; and when forced 
into the revolt, was appointed, by their influence, to the command of 
Galilee ; and thus taking up the cause with doubtful sincerity, he in 
the end proved little better than a renegade. There are also great 
discrepancies in his statement of matters, connected with this period, 
in one part of his history, as compared with his statements in another 
part of it. And many circumstances related of himself are by no 
means creditable, but betray that he could be guilty of falsehood and 
deceit, as also of cruelty ; whilst great egotism and vanity prevail 
throughout. To this must be added, that the parties who might have 
contradicted him, in much which he states, were cut off by the indis- 
criminate sword of the Romans. A Jew of Tiberias, named Justus, 
who did write a history of the war, but whose work is only known by 
the allusions to it in Josephus, evidently related many things differ- 
ently, since he comes in for a copious share of the abuse of Josephus. 
Nevertheless, it must be borne in mind, that these observations only 
refer to those particulars of the history which directly or indirectly 
affect Josephus himself: as regards those events which could be at- 
tested by the observation of Titus or of king Agrippa, nothing can be 
better authenticated -, since, after having written his history of the 
war, he obtained the signature of these two distinguished individuals, 
certifying the truth of his narrative. 


chaia, and other places. At Tarichea, Vespasian 
stained his laurels by an act of perfidy, after he had 
permitted the Jews to capitulate, by falling upon them 
himself while disarmed, and glutting his vengeance 
with a massacre ; after which he sold forty thousand 
of the survivors, into slavery. He was punished bow- 
ever at Gamala, the next place be attacked, by the dis- 
comfiture of the choicest of his legions, and the loss of 
a greater number than Josephus has been permitted 
to relate ; though it is acknowledged to have been 
severe, including several distinguished officers. It 
took place under the immediate observation and to 
the great affliction of Vespasian himself, who again 
indulged his vindictiveness, when he did capture the 
city, by the extermination of every soul found in it. 
From Gischala, John the bandit contrived to make 
his escape with his troops, and unhappily for Jeru- 
salem found refuge within its walls. 

Galilee was now almost wholly subdued. The Sa- 
maritans also had submitted and received pardon ; but 
not until Vespasian had made a severe example, by 
the slaughter of twelve thousand of them. Having 
accomplished these things, he next withdrew his 
army into winter quarters at Caesarea. The following 
year he again took the field, and pursuing the same 
cautious policy, reduced Jericho and other places in 
Judea. But whilst thus engaged, intelligence reached 
him of the death of Nero, and the disordered state of 
affairs at Rome ; upon which, his object being now to 
keep his army unbroken and to watch the progress of 
events in Italy, he again withdrew to Caesarea. 1 He 
resolved on this course with the greater security, 

i Dion. Cass. Ixiii, lxiv. 


from the knowledge which he likewise had of the 
state of affairs in Jerusalem, where rival factions 
were now preying on each other, and performing his 
work for'hiin as effectually as the Roman sword. 

Disunion had been the bane of the Jews from the 
beginning of the revolt. Not only was there a party 
throughout the country desirous of submission, who 
were only kept down and compelled to dissemble by 
dread of the insurgents ; and who, when the Romans 
approached, betrayed the councils of the warriors to 
them, and otherwise weakened their hands ; but the 
war party itself was made up of discordant sects and 
factions, each eyeing the other with jealousy, lest the 
one should obtain a preponderance aspired to by all ; 
and contending among themselves, as soon as they 
were relieved from the pressure of the Roman arms. 

In Jerusalem, matters were in a still more de- 
plorable state. Previous to the defeat of Cestius, 
the Christians within its walls, though persecuted, 
were nevertheless a considerable restraint upon the 
proceedings of the lawless. The truths of God were 
on every opportunity asserted by them; the con- 
science of the multitude could not but acquiesce at 
times in the justice and propriety of their sentiments, 
however disinclined it might be to imitate their prac- 
tice ; and thus many atrocities, as the murders of 
Jonathan, Ananias, and the like, were disapproved 
when perpetrated, by those who had wanted moral 
courage to prevent them. But by the withdrawal of 
the followers of Jesus, the body which remained was 
deprived of its salt, and left to become a putrid car- 
case. Those restraints also, which God imposes by 
moral and legal considerations upon the wrathful 
and ferocious spirit of man, were removed : there 


were none to remind them of their responsibility to 
God ; and they had shaken off the civil yoke both of 
Agrippa and the Romans. Thus were they left a 
prey to anarchy and lawlessness, to render manifest 
into what excesses the fallen nature of man may 
plunge, and what misery he inevitably brings upon 
himself, when he forsakes and is forsaken of God. 
Instead of one leader, in whom all might feel con- 
fidence, and under whom all might unite, dissension, 
like a hydra, produced its many heads, and " violence 
and strife only were spied within the city." Eleazar 
had, in his turn, assumed the title of king, and con- 
ducted himself with so much insolence over the aris- 
tocracy, that another Ananus, or Ananias, who was 
made chief priest after the murder of the former of 
that name, influenced the sanhedrim to depose him 
from his command. Ananus was himself at the head 
of what was considered the moderate party ; who, 
while they alleged that they had no intention of ad- 
mitting the Romans within the city, were inclined to 
propose terms of submission. But Eleazar never- 
theless had the Zealots and Gaulonites on his side, 
and with them the populace ; besides which, the 
treasures of the temple were at his disposal, and 
these he scrupled not to use for the purpose of pro- 
curing and retaining partisans. He now therefore 
seized upon the temple, and made it his , head- 
quarters ; upon which Ananus prepared to dislodge 
him. Many of the populace were enraged at this 
act of profanation by Eleazar and'his party, and were 
induced to join with Ananus, who was aided by Jo- 
seph and Simon, two other priests of eminence. 
Much fighting and much slaughter ensued on both 
sides; but Ananus gained possession of the outer 


court of the temple, and blockaded Eleazar within 
the inner court and buildings of the sanctuary- 
John of Gischala, in the meanwhile, acted with 
his characteristic duplicity. He affected to side with 
Ananus, but secretly betrayed his councils to the 
Zealots ; whom be also persuaded that Ananus was 
about to call in the Romans, and advised them to 
send and inform the Idumeans thereof, and entreat 
their assistance. Trusty messengers were accordingly 
despatched, and the Idumeans, eagerly obeying the 
call, sent twenty thousand men by forced marches 
to Jerusalem. Being refused admittance by Ananus, 
who vainly endeavoured to win them over to his own 
party, they encamped without the walls. .During the 
night which followed, Jerusalem was visited by a 
furious tempest of rain, accompanied by thunder and 
lightning. The guards in the outer court of the temple 
stole away one after the other for shelter ; discovering 
which, a party of the Zealots crept under cover of the 
darkness to the gates, and favoured by the noise of the 
hurricane and the reverberation of the thunder, burst 
them open and proceeded to the city gates. These they 
also found unguarded, and bursting them open in like 
manner, let in the Idumeans. Returning hastily, a 
preconcerted signal was given to the Zealots in the 
inner court, who rushing out from within upon the 
troops of Ananus, at the same time that the Idu- 
means and their escort rushed in, a conflict ensued 
accompanied by shouts and screams more terrific 
and discordant than the tempest. Many destroyed 
each other from inability to distinguish in the dark- 
ness ; and in the morning the court of the temple was 
found deluged with the blood of 8500 human victims. 
The Zealots, having thus exterminated the forces 
2 n 


in the outer court, and again obtained possession of 
the whole temple, were enabled by the help of the 
Idumeans to seize Ananus, and those of the chief 
priests who had aided him, who were all put to death, 
without any respect being paid to their office, and 
their bodies cast out naked into the streets. They 
next dissolved the sanhedrim, and convened another 
consisting entirely of their own creatures, whom they 
likewise preferred to the chief offices of the priest- 
hood. They then commenced a persecution of the 
aristocracy. On the most frivolous charges of favour- 
ing the Romans, the rich were seized and dragged 
before the council thus appointed, and their condem- 
nation and execution as certainly followed. The 
prisons were immediately replenished with fresh 
victims, destined to undergo the same mocker}' ; 
another striking retribution on those who had so 
remarkably violated the forms of justice in the trial 
of Jesus. Twelve thousand persons of wealth or dis- 
tinction perished in this manner; the principal temp- 
tation being the pillage of their houses. Many of 
those, who now raised their hands against them, had 
formerly been their own labourers, but driven by 
their oppressions to follow the more dangerous but 
more independent calling of the bandit, or to attach 
themselves to the marauding Zealots. One of the 
Christian prophets, whom the Jews had killed, had 
warned them of their danger in the following striking 
words : " Go to now, ye rich men, weep and howl for 
your miseries that shall come upon you. Your riches 
are corrupted, and your garments moth-eaten ; yo«r 
gold and silver is cankered ; and the rust of them shall 
be a witness against you, and shall eat your flesh as it 
were fire. Ye have heaped treasure together for the 


last days. Behold, the hire of the labourers, who 
have reaped down your fields, which is of you kept 
back by fraud, crieth ; and the cries of them which 
have reaped are entered into the ears of the Lord of 
Sabaoth. Ye have lived in pleasure on the earth 
and been wanton ; ye have nourished your hearts as 
in a day of slaughter; (or as victims are nourished 
and fattened for the day of slaughter ; ) ye have con- 
demned and killed the Just One, and he doth not 
resist you." (James v. 1—5.) 

There were some of the aristocracy, who either 
from a depraved love of popularity, or really deluded 
by the pestiferous principles of the Zealots, had 
joined their party ; but these only had their fate de- 
ferred: as soon as the party supposed to be inimical 
to the Zealots was hunted down, those who were pro- 
fessedly friendly to them were next attacked, on the 
same pretences. To have given decent burial to one 
that was slain, or to have been seen to weep or ex- 
press a word of regret for them, was deemed suffi- 
cient evidence of their favouring the Romans. In 
two instances (those of Niger of Perea and a wealthy 
person named Zacharias,) the council having ven- 
tured to acquit or hesitate, the accused were stabbed 
by the Sicarii, in the midst of the court, and the 
senators were next attacked with clubs, and driven 
from their seats. Yet these ruffians called them- 
selves saviours ; as if they had studied by that appel- 
lation to mock those, who had crucified the only 
Saviour. These proceedings however undeceived the 
Idumeans, who after having first set open the pri- 
son-doors, in which were confined two thousand 
more intended victims, withdrew from the city m 
disgust. Under their protection the released prison- 



ers and many others quitted Jerusalem likewise; 
most of whom repaired to the fortress of Mas sad a, 
still in the hands of the Zealots. The commander at 
this time was Simon Bar-gioras of Gerasa, a fierce 
and subtle robber, the counterpart of John of Gis- 
chala ; who having distinguished himself against 
Cestius at the passes of Bethoron, was appointed to, 
or rather assumed the command of, the district of 
Acribatene; but became so intolerable from his out- 
rages and excesses, that Ananus had been obliged to 
march against him and expel him. After this he 
repaired to Massada, where the force which accom- 
panied him procured for him the command. He 
there strengthened himself by enlisting in his service 
a multitude of slaves, whom he enticed by emanci- 
pating them ; 1 numbers of the Sicarii, and many Idu- 
means also ; and now, being further increased by the 
arrival of the fugitives from Jerusalem, he marched 
toward the metropolis. The Zealots who went forth 
against him were defeated; after which Simon ra- 
vaged the country round about, enriching himself 
thereby with the spoil, and increasing his army until 
he had twenty thousand followers. 

In the mean time John of Gischala threw off the 
mask in Jerusalem. By fomenting jealousies among 
the followers of Eleazar, and attaching many to him- 
self by bribes and promises, he thought himself strong 
enough to obtain the mastery, and set up as king. 
He seized upon the outer court of the temple, and 
established himself therein against Eleazar, with 
whom he had frequent conflicts, but without much 
advantage on either side. John's position however 

1 Tacit. Hist. v. 12. 


was the most favourable for mischief, and from it 
he sallied forth and continually robbed and mal- 
treated friends and foes. His followers abandoned 
themselves to the most extravagant and insane licen- 
tiousness ; they painted their faces and decked them- 
selves in the gorgeous apparel discovered in their 
pillage, whether it was of males or females. In this 
effeminate attire they were one while guilty of dis- 
gusting obscenities ; at other times they ran about 
frantic, stabbing every person whom they met. 

The inhabitants at length convened a secret coun- 
cil, to consider what was to be done ; but they were 
now without counsel or understanding in Jerusalem, 
and came to the infatuated and fatal resolution of 
calling in Simon to their aid. He immediately took 
possession of the upper town, from which he attacked 
John ; but no impression was made on him, though 
he was now exposed to the attacks of two assailing 
parties. In the meanwhile Simon and his followers 
soon shewed themselves to be as profligate as John's. 
In their conflicts with each other they set fire to 
whole streets; and when not actually contending, 
gluttony, drunkenness, rape, murdet, violence, and 
robbery every where prevailed. " Righteousness 
had lodged in the city, but now murderers/' Jose- 
ph us describes it " as a den of robbers and mur- 
derers;" 1 another striking instance of the justice 
of the recompense which overtook those, who had 
preferred, in Barabbas, a robber, and a murderer, 
instead of Christ ! 

At the same time that all three were conflicting 
among themselves, each was vigilant to prevent any 

J De Bello, iv. 9, 10. 


desertion of the inhabitants. " As leopards they 
watched over the city/' and pounced with the fierce- 
ness of the beast of prey on all whom they suspected. 
The slightest symptom of impatience or dissatisfac- 
tion was construed .into treason; the offender was 
immediately put to death, and his body thrown over 
the walls. The tyranny of Florus was considered at 
the time not to be surpassed ; but the furnace was 
now heated seven times hotter than in his days, and 
a reign of terror and most grinding tyranny pre- 
vailed, which caused even him to be regretted. 

Such was the state of affairs at Jerusalem, whilst 
Vespasian, at Ca?sarea, was watching the course of 
events in Italy. Galba, Otho, and Vitellius rapidly 
succeeded each other in the imperial dignity, and at 
length, in a.d. 69, the purple was offered to Vespa- 
sian. He accordingly repaired to Rome, leaving his 
son Titus to prosecute the Jewish war, whoniarched 
the following year for Jerusalem. 

If the character of Titus, as a commander, is to be 
judged of by this war, it has certainly been overrated : 
he displayed much of the rash and impetuous bra- 
very of youth ; little of the skill and foresight of a 
good general. In the first onset he had a narrow 
escape of being taken prisoner or destroyed ; for 
on arriving within four miles of the city, he pushed 
forward with a body of cavalry to reconnoitre. AH 
was profound silence, and no soul appeared upon 
the walls ; but as Titus, emboldened by this cir- 
cumstance, approached nearer, suddenly the gates 
opened, the Jews sallied forth, and separated him, 
then entangled among gardens, from the main body 
of his escort. Titus however cut his way through 
the assailants, and escaped by the fleetness of his 


horse ; and the remainder of his army presently 
carae up, and encamped about the city. 

The Jews were at this time again preparing to 
celebrate the passover; which festival was, on this 
occasion, remarkable on several accounts. It was 
the return of that ordinance, at which, only thirty- 
six years previously, they had crucified their Mes- 
siah ; it was the last passover observed at Jerusa- 
lem; and it was at this time attended by unpre- 
cedented multitudes of strangers : for the war party, 
anxious to obtain reinforcements, had sent letters to 
their brethren in all the countries round about, in- 
viting their special attendance. Moreover the cir- 
cumstance that hostile armies were in view during 
this festival, ought to have operated as a solemn 
warning to the Jews, that their ways were not pleas- 
ing to God ; since Moses, in whom they trusted, had 
assured them, that so long as they continued obe- 
dient strangers should not desire their land ; and that 
their cities should be safe from aggression, during 
their absence at these feasts. 1 

Many warning omens and prodigies are likewise 
related by Josephus, by Tacitus, and by the Rabbins, 
as having occurred, from the procuratorship of Al- 
binus downward to this period : as the appearing 
of a comet, with a tail like a scymitar, which hung 
over the city for a twelvemonth ; a supernatural light 
which shone about the altar and temple at the feast 
of unleavened bread ; the appearance in the heavens 
after sunset of a multitude of chariots and horse- 
men, which made a circuit round the city in battle 
array ; a voice heard by the priests, who kept watch 

1 Exod. XXXiV. 23, 24. 


by night in the temple at the feast of Pentecost, say- 
ing, Let us depart hence, and followed by a rushing 
noise as of a multitude ; and the spontaneous burst- 
ing open of the brazen gates of the outer court, which 
required twenty men to move. 1 Though some of these 
things, and others related, might have been the effect 
of imagination, they serve nevertheless to evince the 
excitable and feverish state of the public mind at 
this period. One circumstance however, which is well 
authenticated, created a melancholy foreboding in 
the minds of many. This was theconduct of a man 
named Jesus, considered as a maniac by some, but 
more probably one of the Essenes, many of whom 
(Josephus says) were endowed with the spirit of pro- 
phecy. 2 He went about day and night in the streets 
and on the walls of the city, uttering with a loud 
voice woes against the temple, Jerusalem, and the 

i Joseph, de Bell. vi. 5. Tac. Hist. v. 12, 13. Talmud, Ioma*, cap. 31. 
2 The Essenes have been casually mentioned before, but they make 
little figure in Jewish history, though recognised by all writers as 
forming a distinct and singular people. Philo considers them a con- 
templative and mystical sect, and calls them TheraputcB. They were 
ascetic in their habits, abstained from wine, and avoided towns; on 
which account some have concluded them to have been RecTidbites, 
descendants of Hobab, Moses' father in law ; but without sufficient 
reason. (Fleury, pt. iv. c. 5.) They practised rigid cejibacy among 
themselves, but adopted and brought up the children of others. They 
sent gifts to the temple, but offered no sacrifice. They received the 
scriptures, but not the traditions ; though they nevertheless had many 
opinions peculiar to themselves, some of which were derived from the 
Oriental phUosophy. They were strict observers of the Sabbath, 
scrupulously regardful of their oath, upright in all their dealings, 
strict predestinarians or fatalists in doctrine, and accustomed to re- 
gard with indifference both pleasure and pain. They were in con- 
siderable numbers in the vicinity of Alexandria, and also on the shores 
of the Dead Sea, where they suffered cruelly from the army of Vespa- 
sian in his conquest of Jericho, being tortured in various ways to 
compel them to blaspheme; but all which they patiently endured, 
neither uttering a cry nor shedding a tear. One of their number, 
named John, was appointed commander of the region of Thamua, &c, 
at the same time that Josephus was of Galilee. 


nation. When dragged before Albinus and scourged, 
he uttered no cry for mercy, and betrayed no symp- 
tom of pain, but at every stripe exclaimed, « Woe, 
woe to Jerusalem ! * When demanded by Albinus 
who he was, he gave no reply ; who concluding him 
to be deranged, ordered him to be loosed. From that 
time he continued his mournful ditty, derided, in- 
sulted, afflicted, and sometimes pitied. He rebuked 
nobody who struck him, he thanked nobody who gave 
him food, but continued his course as if insensible to 
suffering. At length, pursuing his way on the walls, 
during the siege by Cestius, he suddenly stopped, 
and crying aloud, ' Woe, woe to myself/ was imme- 
diately struck dead by a stone from a Roman balista. 
When the Jews perceived themselves to be seriously 
invested, they agreed to cease from their own con- 
flicts for awhile, and uniting their forces, rushed out 
upon the tenth Roman legion, while the soldiers were 
entrenching themselves. Their furious impetuosity 
and increasing multitudes amazed the Romans, who 
would have been overwhelmed, had not Titus has- 
tened to their succour and attacked the Jews on the 
flank. Multitudes however still pouring forth, the 
Romans retreated up the mount of Olives; where, 
finding the Jews still pursuing, they were seized with 
panic, dispersed, and fled in all directions. Titus 
was again left in a perilous situation, with only a 
handful of followers ; on which a few Roman sol- 
diers, perceiving his danger, taunted the fugitives ; 
who then rallied, and pouring down the hill in turn 
upon the Jews, now breathless with the ascent, com- 
pelled them to retire. 1 The Romans nevertheless 

1 Bishop Newcombe and others have concluded this to be the time 
when the Christians fled out of the city 5 (Observ. p. 422.) but many 


suffered severely in the encounter, whilst great spirit 
and confidence was infused into the Jews. 

A few days afterwards, by a well conducted strat- 
agem, the Jews obtained another advantage. A 
large party issued from the gates, who cowered under 
the walls, as if afraid of advancing towards the 
Romans ; toward whom they nevertheless stretched 
forth their arms, in the attitude o£ supplication; 
whilst those on the walls appeared to be pelting 
them with stones. The Romans were deceived, and 
concluding it to be the advocates for peace, driven 
out of the city by the war faction, the troops nearest 
to them advanced ; when the gates suddenly opened, 
and the Jewish myriads, pouring forth, surrounded 
the Romans, whilst a shower of darts and missiles 
fell upon them from the walls. A few only effected 
their escape: the rest ( were cut to pieces, and the 
Jews derided the Romans with great exultation. 

The principal attack of Titus was on Bezetha, 
where the walls were low. Here he soon effected a 
breach, and got possession of it, but not without a 
desperate struggle on the part of the Jews, and con- 
siderable loss which he must himself have suffered ; 
but Josephus invariably conceals the casualties of 
the Romans, not being permitted probably by Titus 
to name them. Another breach was soon after 
deemed practicable in the lower or middle city, and 
Titus entered with his troops; but he was again 
doomed to sustain a defeat, and was glad to effect his 
retreat by the way he entered : nevertheless, he grad- 

weighty reasons may be urged against the probability of such an in- 
ference ; the chief of which is, that the city had been invested before 
by Cestius ; and they would have despised our Lord's directions not 
to have "attempted their retreat, on the first opportunity, after the 
token had occurred which he gave them. (Luke xxi. 20—22.) 


t*ally gained possession of the second town. The tem- 
ple however, the upper city and the castles, constitut- 
ing the strongest portion of the defences, still remained, 
and a united people within would, humanly speaking, 
have compelled the Romans to raise the siege. But 
God had now turned to be their enemy, and the 
same divisions and conflicts continued within the 
walls. John had contrived to surprise Eleazar, by 
sending his men disguised, with swords under their 
garments, into the inner court for worship ; who, 
suddenly falling upon Eleazar, slew him, obtained 
possession of the inner court, and the followers of 
Eleazar then united with those of John. There were 
now therefore but two parties, under John and Simon ; 
but these two chiefs watched each other like tigers ; 
and the one was often restrained from attacking the 
Romans at an advantage, through fear of being at- 
tacked himself by his rival. 

A new and more formidable enemy next appeared 
in the field, in the shape of famine. The successes 
of the Jews, during the siege, proved in the result a 
snare to them in several respects. It encouraged 
them to continue their conflicts with each other, 
whereby much provision was often destroyed, lest it 
should prove useful to the opposite party ; it caused 
them to be prodigal and wanton, in the use of that 
in their own possession, under the confidence that 
the Romans would speedily break up and retire ; 
and it determined them to resist the frequent over- 
tures of Titus, until at length, exasperated by their 
obstinacy, he resolved on the extermination of them 
all. The deficiency of provisions had become more 
sensibly felt every day. On the 17th July the daily 
sacrifice was obliged to be discontinued from the 


want of victims ; the first time it bad ceased to be 
offered since it was restored by Judas Maccabeus. 
John, having the magazines of the temple at his com- 
mand, took care of his own men ; the troops of Simon, 
being unprovided, obtained food by violence, where- 
ever they could seize it. The miserable inhabitants 
were left to obtain it as they could. Many parted 
with their whole substance for a measure of corn, 
and then dared not grind or bake it, lest the noise of 
the mill, or the smell of the oven, should be noticed 
by the troops of Simon. 

Still the Roman arras were attended with disaster 
and humiliation. On the one side John undermined 
their works, and threw down engines, towers and 
embankments together ; in another direction Simon, 
emulous of the skill and valour of his rival, rushed 
out with torches, and set fire to the engines and bat- 
tering trains ; and a total defeat of the whole lines 
would again have followed, had not Titus hastened 
with fresh troops and relieved them, when on the 
point of fleeing. 

Deprived of his artillery, and having no timber at 
hand for constructing other, engines, Titus now de- 
termined to turn the siege into a blockade ; to accom- 
plish which more effectually, he dug a deep fosse with 
a high embankment all round the city, on which he 
built towers at short intervals ; thus accomplishing 
a prophecy of Jesus— " For the days shall come 
upon thee, that thine enemies shall cast a trench: 
about thee, and compass thee round, and keep thee: 
in on every side." (Luke xix. 43.) 

At length the troops of John began to suffer from 
the famine, which greatly aggravated the miseries of 
the usual inhabitants. Whosoever appeared with a 


countenance less wan and emaciated than others 
was immediately suspected of having concealed pro- 
visions ; and if any food was found in his house, he 
was put to death for not having exposed it in the 
market. A small quantity of chopped hay fetched 
a high price ; the shoes, belts, and leather shields 
were boiled and eaten ; still more revolting sub- 
stances were next resorted to ; even the dunghills 
were carefully ransacked for any thing, however 
loathsome, that might appease the cravings of hunger. 
The aged and infirm, together with the children, and 
all who were unable to take care for themselves, 
were left to perish. The usual ties and sympathies 
of nature were disregarded. If one member of a 
family found a morsel of food, he was obliged v to eat 
it privily, or it was snatched from his mouth by some 
other member ; children and parents contending with 
each other. One circumstance excited universal 
horror. Mary, a noble lady of Perea, in the delirium 
produced by hunger, slew and boiled her own infant, 
and having eaten part of it, set the remainder aside. 
Allured by the smell of food, a party of marauders 
burst in, and charged her with the crime of having 
eaten; on which she uncovered the remains of her 
child, and with frantic irony invited them to partake. 
The severity of Titus added to their miseries, all 
who deserted to him being now put to death. Many 
nevertheless preferred the risk of perishing by the 
Romans to the certainty of becoming the victims of 
hunger; and stealing therefore over the walls by 
night, they crept to the purlieus of the Roman camp 
in search of offal. In the hope of striking terror into 
the besieged, as many as h\e hundred of these mis- 
erable wretches were crucified at one time ; and 


those who gave their voices to crucify the Lord of 
glory, now saw their city surrounded by a multitude 
of their countrymen writhing under similar punish- 
ment. Those who perished within the city were 
either thrown over the walls into the ravines, or 
left unburied in the streets ; which caused at 
length so horrible a stench, that it became necessary 
to carry them out and bury them. A deserter, who 
had been charged with this office, declared to the 
Romans, that 115,880 corpses had been thus dis- 
posed of, at one gate only, between the 14th of April 
and the 1st of July. 

Titus however, finding that no impression was made 
on the besieged by his severities, relaxed so far as to 
permit desertion; but the mercy of this act was frus- 
trated from other causes. Some of the Jews who de- 
serted were found to have swallowed jewels or gold, 
which they were afterwards detected searching for in 
their excrements. As soon as this was known, the 
Arabs and Syrians in the army of Titus struck them 
down and ripped them open to examine their en- 
trails ; and though rebuked and threatened for it by 
Titus, it only caused them to dispatch their wretched 
victims more privately, as was attested by the man- 
gled remains discovered every morning. 

In the meanwhile Titus had been for some weeks 
collecting timber from a distance; and considering 
that he had now sufficient to reconstruct his battering 
engines, he determined on resuming offensive opera- 
tions. After much hard fighting and repeated checks, 
he succeeded in scaling and keeping possession of 
the castle of Antonia ; which place the Jews, at the 
beginning of the war, had captured in half the 
time, though garrisoned by Romans. He next esta- 


Wished himself in the outer court of the temple, and 
having from thence set fire to the gates of the inner 
court, which were of wood covered with silver, he 
prepared for a general assault on it. All these ope- 
rations however were attended with severe contests 
and much loss. 

Previous to the attack, Titus, who was desirous of 
saving the temple itself from destruction, on account 
of its magnificence, held a council of six of his prin- 
cipal officers, and submitted to them the expediency 
of so doing. Three wereibr its destruction, and three 
for its preservation ; on which Titus threw his casting- 
vote in with the latter. But a greater than Titus had 
determined otherwise. The soldiers had orders on 
the following night to clear away the rubbish and 
smoking embers of the cloisters of the outer court, 
which had been set on fire by the Jews ; but whilst 
they were so employed, the Jews rushed out upon 
them. The Romans repulsed them, and followed 
with them fighting into the inner court; when one of 
the soldiers, perceiving an open door or window of 
an upper apartment, stood upon the shoulders of his 
comrades, and threw a lighted firebrand into it. The 
dry cedar was instantly in a blaze. Shouts from the 
one party, and cries and shrieks from the other, rent 
the air ; and were responded to by the troops of 
Simon, from the walls of the upper city, with the 
phrensied wildness of despair. Titus ran down from 
the Antonia, and would have had the fire extin- 
guished ; but his men were so excited as to be deaf to 
his remonstrances, and, losing all discipline, they 
rushed from every quarter to the scene of action, 
crowding in at the gate of the inner court in such 
confused masses, that many fell and were trampled to 


death. The rage of those who gained entrance, at 
the remembrance of their frequent defeats, was un- 
controllable. The Jews resisted with equal fury 
and desperation, howling and wailing as they fought. 
No quarter was given or looked for on either side. 
John with a small body of troops performed the 
astonishing feat of cutting his way through the 
dense mass that jammed up the entrance, and mak- 
ing good his retreat to Simon in the upper town ; 
the remainder of his troops, perceiving deliverance 
hopeless, preferred death rather than surrender, and 
fell by the Roman sword. A multitude of women 
and unarmed inhabitants were likewise cut to pieces 
in the indiscriminate slaughter. These, according to 
Tacitus, had been led by their prophetical books to 
believe, that in the very crisis of the siege their Mes- 
siah would appear and deliver them; and having 
assembled in the temple, at the instigation of a false 
prophet, to witness a miraculous interference, were 
surprised by the Roman conquest of the outer court. 1 

The destruction of the temple, by a remarkable 
coincidence, took place on the 9th day of the month 
Ab, the very day on which it had been destroyed by 
Nebuchadnezzar, about 660 years before. 

Simon and John were reduced to the utmost extre- 
mities by famine ; and now that circumstances had 
compelled a union between the chiefs, their soldiers 
began to quarrel, with death staring them in the face, 
about the division of the plunder. Fierce conten- 
tions arose ; and as scorpions, when they find them- 
selves environed by danger, strike their stings into 
each other; and then into themselves, so this ser- 

i Tac. Hist. v. 13 ; and compare Zechariah xiv. which is probably 
the prophecy which the Jews trusted in. 


pent brood, with as deadly a venom, cut down their 
own comrades, and afterwards, in many instances, 
fell upon their own swords. The remainder, with 
their leaders, crept down like living spectres into the 
caverns and dungeons under ground, hoping to re- 
main concealed until an opportunity of flight should 
present itself; and the Romans, meeting with no fur- 
ther resistance, finally took the upper city, which 
completed the conquest of Jerusalem, after a siege of 
four months' duration. 

It has been computed on good data, that one mil- 
lion and one hundred thousand Jews perished from 
first to last in Jerusalem during this revolt; be- 
sides which, ninety-seven thousand captives were sold 
into slavery, or sent to the amphitheatres of the dif- 
ferent provinces, to fight as gladiators. 1 Great num- 
bers also were sold as slaves during the campaigns of 
Vespasian ; and a greater multitude left Palestine 
and went into other countries to avoid captivity or 
the sword. An immense treasure was found collected 
by Simon and John ; so liberal a distribution of which 
was made by Titus among his troops, that gold fell in 
Syria to one-half its value. In the expectation that 
more might be concealed, Titus had the remains of 
the temple razed to the ground, and the foundations 
dug up; thus literally not leaving one stone upon 

i Basnage, tome i. c, 8 ; Lipsius, lib. ii. c. 21 . It must be borne in 
mind that unusual multitudes attended the Passover on this occasion 
Cestius, when he was prefect, obtained a computation, founded on the 
number of lambs offered at the Passover, and on which a tax was 
levied, from which it appeared that the number of persons amounted 
to 2,556,000. Tacitus states the population of Jerusalem at 600,000, 
(Hist. v. 13,) but he is not speaking of the season of the Passover, and 
must apparently have underrated it, in any case. To the calculation 
above-mentioned, of those who perished by the sword or famine in the 
last war, or were sold, must be added the deserters, who were spared ; 
and many who at an early period of the siege probably escaped. 


another, as Jesus had predicted. (Matt, xxiv.2.) All 
the buildings of the city were likewise destroyed, ex- 
cepting the towers of Phasaelis, Mariamne, and Hip- 
picus, built by Herod, which were left as a trophy of 
the Roman conquest. In this utter destruction of the 
city, and removal of the people, were further manifest 
the reasons, why God permitted temporary successes 
to the Jewish arms. In ordinary cases of revolt, the 
punishment would have been only of an ordinary cha- 
racter, and the wrath predicted by Messiah woulcj 
not in that case have been accomplished; but the ex^ 
asperation excited in the Romans by their frequent 
checks and defeats, prompted them to unusual seve- 
rities, by means of which God fulfilled to the very 
letter all that he had foretold. 

Simon and John were discovered in their retreat. 
Both were taken to Rome and dragged in chains at 
the car of Titus on the occasion of his triumph ; after 
which the former was conducted naked to the Forum, 
with a rope round his neck, being scourged as he 
went along, and there put to death, John, who had 
surrendered himself on a promise of having his life 
spared, was condemned to be kept in chains, and 
languished the remainder of his days in a dungeon. 

At the same triumph of Titus the golden table of 
shewbread, the candlestick with seven branches, the 
censers, the silver trumpets, and the copy of the law 
were exhibited among the spoils carried before him ; 
and are sculptured on the arch called after his name, 
which remains at Rome to the present day. 

Thus a final termination was put to the Mosaical 
dispensation, about 2600 years after it had first been 
established in Sinai. 




[a.d. 73 — 311.] After the destruction of Jerusa- 
lem, there yet remained important fortresses in the 
hands of the Jews, which however speedily fell be- 
fore the superior skill and tactics of the Romans. 
The capture of Massada, the last of them, exhibited 
in a striking manner the desperate character of the 
Zealots ; by a party of whom, under the command of 
Eleazar, a descendant of Judas the Gaulonite, it 
was garrisoned. When the Romans had effected a 
breach, and waited only for the morning to storm it, 
Eleazar summoned his followers around him, and 
avowing the hopeless state of their affairs, advised 
that they should destroy each other, and thus save 
their wives and children from abuse, and disappoint 
the enemy of his prey.* The proposal was readily 
acceded to ; and having first collected their valuables 
in a heap and set them on fire, they next selected 
ten persons by lot to be the executioners of the re- 
mainder. These resolutely despatched their com- 

2 12 


rades and their families, and next chose one from 
their own number to perform the same revolting office 
on themselves; who, having accomplished it, finally 
plunged his weapon in his own breast. Two wo- 
men nevertheless contrived to conceal themselves, 
with five children, and were the only persons whom 
the Romans found, on entering the breach, to relate 
the horrors of that tragical night. 

Palestine was now completely subdued, and occu- 
pied by Roman posts; and Agrippa, who thus lost his 
dominions, was content to end his days peaceably, 
but with comparative obscurity, at Rome. 


The punishment of Judah was not confined to those 
who dwelt in Palestine: their brethren in other 
countries had directly or indirectly participated in 
the nation's guilt, and were consequently to be in- 
volved in the nation's doom. Already had the inha- 
bitants of various cities round about, encouraged by 
the example of the Romans, oppressed them in dif- 
ferent ways. In Nearda, in Mesopotamia, just after 
Caligula's reign, they suffered a great massacre. In 
Seleucia the Greeks and Syrians conspired against 
them, as a common enemy ; and falling upon them 
by surprise, slew fifty thousand. In Alexandria, the 
city in which for three centuries they had enjoyed 
repose, about the same number were slaughtered, in 
the year that Cestius was defeated ; and their temple 
in that city was soon after destroyed. In the same 
year the Jews of Damascus were decoyed into a 
snare and cut to pieces. At Scythopolis the Syrians, 
having first obtained their assistance against the 


Greeks, next rewarded their services by putting thir- 
teen thousand of them to death. 

Such massacres now became common, wheresoever 
there was a Jewish colony within the same walls 
with Greeks or Syrians. To the credit indeed of 
Antioch and some few other cities, the majority of 
the inhabitants discountenanced the disposition of 
the more lawless to molest the Jews; probably owing 
to the influence of the numerous Christians now 
among them. Nevertheless, the conduct of the Jews 
at length incited the Antiochians to send a deputation 
to Titus, entreating his permission to expel them from 
their walls; but the following touching refusal was 
returned: " The country of the Jews is laid waste : they 
have no home to which they can withdraw: let them 

About forty years later, toward the end of Trajan's 
reign, the feud between the Jews and Greeks burst 
out afresh, and produced serious consequences to 
both parties. 1 Egypt was the first scene of the dis- 
turbances, where the Jews, headed by one Andrew, 
were in the first instance successful. But the Greeks, 
retiring upon Alexandria, obtained complete mastery 
of that city, and again deluged the streets thereof 
with Jewish blood. 

Infuriated at the news of this massacre, the Jews 
of Cyrene next took up arms, under one Luke, or 
Lucuas? and, penetrating to Thebais, slaughtered all 

1 The origin of this revolt is not manifest ; but it is not improbable 
that the conduct of Trajan towards the Jews at Rome might have 
first re-kindled the irritation of that people generally. They are said 
to have offended his empress by celebrating one of their festivals, 
whilst the rest of the city was mourning the loss of her infant daugh- 
ter; on which Trajan, at her instigation, caused them to be sur- 
rounded in their quarters, and a terrible punishment to be inflicted. 
2 Eusebius, lib. iv. cap. 2. 


who came in their way, to the amount of two hundred 
and twenty thousand persons. Encouraged by this 
success, the Jews of Cyprus next rose upon the inha- 
bitants of that island, and slew two hundred and 
forty thousand. 1 The Jews were now led to believe 
that the time was actually arrived spoken of by their 
prophets, when they were to go forth and tread down 
their enemies throughout the world. The distinction 
between Zealots and Moderates, which up to this 
period had still existed, now entirely disappeared : 
all were animated by the same spirit of ruthless fana- 
ticism against the Gentiles; and a general revolt 
throughout the East ensued. For some time they 
bad been silently creeping into Palestine : they now- 
poured into it from all quarters, rebuilt the ruined 
towns and villages, and attacked those places occu- 
pied by the enemy. The Romans were so taken by 
surprise, that they had no troops at hand to stem the 
torrent of immigration ; and the death of Trajan at 
this crisis afforded a further season of impunity and 
of preparation to the revolters. 

At this juncture arose another of those impostors, 
who had so repeatedly proved a snare to this erring 
people. He was a bandit, who having acquired a 
trick of holding lighted tow in his mouth in such a 
manner as to emit flame and sparks, was immediately 
concluded to be a Messiah ; and being brought into 
the presence of Rabbi Akiba, 2 the most eminent of 

1 Dion. Cass. lib. lxviii. This writer states that the victors mani- 
fested the most savage exultation, quaffing the blood and girding 
themselves with the entrails of their victims. The bigotted attach- 
ment however of the Zealots to the law of Moses, which forbids the 
using of blood, more especially of those who would be accounted un- 
clean, is a sufficient refutation of this calumny. 

2 The Jews say, that Akiba excelled the learned and pious of all ages j 
and that God revealed more to him than he did to Moses, 


the Jewish teachers of that day, he was by him de- 
clared to be the star foretold by Balaam, who was to 
arise out of Jacob and to have dominion. Not to 
believe on him was now regarded as a sin : the entire 
multitude was swayed by the authority of the rabbi ; 
the impostor, now surnamed Bar-ChocJiab, (Son of the 
Star,) was crowned king at Bither; and speedily 
found himself at the head of an army of 200,000 men, 
having 50 castles and 985 towns and large villages in 
their possession, including the ruins of Jerusalem, 
which they prepared to rebuild. 

The decrees of Hadrian, who had succeeded Trajan, 
and who aimed at the extermination of Judaism itself, 
served to confirm the Jews more determinedly in their 
revolt; but they were unable to resist his arms, and 
their dream of glory was therefore quickly dissi- 
pated. According to Dion, the Romans were often 
defeated, and lost the flower of their army ; but the 
Jews were nevertheless expelled from Cyprus, on 
which island none of their race were ever afterwards 
permitted to set foot ; in Cyrene and Egypt they fell 
before Martius Turbo ;— and Palestine was gradually 
reduced by Julius Severus. The venerable rabbi 
Akiba, now in his hundred and twentieth year, was 
among the first taken, and by the barbarous orders of 
Hadrian had his flesh torn from his body with an . 
iron comb, Barchochab fell among the last, at the 
siege of Bither, the surrender of which fortress ter- 
minated the war, 1 No less than 580,000 Jews per- 
ished by the sword during this revolt, besides multi- 
tudes by famine, disease, and other calamities, forming 

i The Jews themselves stigmatised the memory of their leader, by 
changing his name from Barchochab, or Son of a star, to Barcozba, 
j. e. Son of a lie. 


a total, according to some writers, of 700,000 ; and 
the slave-markets were again glutted with the cap- 
tives. 1 

Hadrian next took measures to destroy as much as 
possible the fond attachment of the Jews to the soil 
of Zion, and more especially to particular spots ren- 
dered sacred by the recollections of former times. 
The ancient monuments were pulled down and the 
ruins carted away; with the stones of the temple a 
theatre was erected, and a new temple dedicated to 
Jupiter built on the old site; a ploughshare was 
drawn over the consecrated ground, as a sign of per- 
petual interdiction ; and a new city, called Mlia, arose 
on it, over the gates of which, in order to repel the 
entrance of a Jew, was sculptured the image of a 
swine. 2 The rest of Judea became a desolate wilder- 
ness ; the land was permitted to go out of cultivation, 
beasts of prey took up their abode in the ruined 
cities and villages, and all bore melancholy traces of 
" The Desolator." (Heb. of Dan. ix. 26, 27.) 

The tolerance and leniency of Antoninus Pius, 
who succeeded to the imperial throne after Hadrian, 
tended to assuage in some measure the ferocity of 
the Jews, and to induce them to settle down quietly 

1 Dion. Cass. lib. Ixix. and Jerome in Cler. p. 169. The history of 
this period is greatly entangled, especially the Rabbinical notices 
of it, which conflict much with each other. Some refer the revolt to 
the reign of Trajan, others to that of Hadrian j some make the revolt 
of the Jews of Egypt, Cyrene and Cyprus altogether a distinct period, 
and to have been suppressed before the war in Palestine; whilst 
others make the whole one continuous event. By the same means, 
. those who make two events of it state that a loss on the part of the 
Jews, equal in amount to that under Hadrian, took place in Cyrene 
and Egypt previously. See Jerome in Chron. p. 166; Eusebius Hist, 
lib. iv; Orosius, lib. vii. c. 12. 

3 Jerome in Chron. p. 163, An. 136 ; Gibbon's Decl. of Rom. Emp. 
vol. iv. p. 100. 


for a while. Though still excluded from Mount 
Zion, they were permitted to occupy Tiberias, Naza- 
reth, Capernaum and Sepphoris ; their celebrated 
schools at Jamnia and Tiberias, which had been 
closed by Hadrian, were re-opened ; and at the latter 
city their chief rabbi, with the title of Patriarch, 
fixed his residence. Free liberty of exercising their 
own worship was granted, with the single restraint 
that they should not to attempt to proselyte others. 
They were allowed a council for the regulation of 
their own religious affairs ; and their patriarch was 
permitted to receive tribute, and to appoint to all 
offices which solely respected themselves. 

The Jews of the Mesopotamian provinces were dif- 
ferently circumstanced ; for those countries having 
been left unsubdued by Trajan, and afterwards aban- 
doned by Hadrian, the Jews resident therein were 
chiefly under the power of the Persians. They never- 
theless came, like the Jews of the west, under the 
authority of one individual, who was called the Resch- 
Glutha, or prince of the captivity ; whereby, within 
about half a century from the war with Hadrian, the 
entire of the Jews formed two distinct and regular 
communities, each under their respective head. 1 The 
eastern Jews had likewise eminent schools at Na- 

l The Resch Glutha, owing to the larger measure of influence 
granted to the Jews by the Persian monarchs, greatly exceeded the 
Patriarch of Tiberias in splendor. He resided in a magnificent palace, 
had his cup-bearers and other officers of state, and was complimented 
with valuable presents by all who approached him j and when, on 
occasions of state, he visited the Shah, he was arrayed in cloth of 
gold, fifty guards marched before him, and the Jews whom he met did 
homage and fell into his train. Yet from an affectation of humility, 
prompted perhaps by a sound discretion, he refused the chariot sent 
for him on these occasions by the Shah, but walked behind it ; and 
at other times contented himself with a stately seclusion. 


hardea, Sura and Pumbeditha ; out of which arose an 
order of rabbins called Gaonim, or Illustrious. 


[a.d. 312 — 379.]— From the reign of Antoninus Pius 
down to that of Constantine the Great the Jews had 
suffered but little molestation from the Romans, and 
were some time objects of favour with the emperor. 1 
They could not indeed suppress their hatred of the 
Christians, which was not unfrequently manifested 
by outrages and tumults ; but such ebullitions were 
now agreeable to the Pagans, who had themselves 
become persecutors of the despised Nazarenes. 2 
The conversion, however, of the emperor Constantine, 
and the establishment of Christianity as the religion 
of the empire, necessarily altered greatly the rela- 
tive positions of both parties. On the one hand, 
the Jews had no longer the opportunity of procuring 
the punishment of Christians, by accusing them, on 
the score of their religion, before the Roman tribu- 
nals ; on the other hand, the emperor issued a decree, 

1 The emperor Heliogabalus was favourable to the Jews, from the 
circumstance (it is stated) of having been nursed by a Jewess. He 
submitted to circumcision, and abstained from eating swine's flesh. 
Alexander Severus, upon philosophical principles, paid honour both 
to Christ and Abraham, as good men j and their busts adorned his 
gallery. He so protected the Jews, that they called him the Father 
of the Synagogue. 

2 Attempts had been made to unite the Jews and Christians into 
one sect. The Ebionites of Pella embraced both Christ and Moses j 
but they were refused by both parties, and gradually melted away. 
(See Gibbon, vol. ii. p. 281, who artfully endeavours to insinuate that 
they were the more primitive and orthodox Christians.) Paul of Sa- 
mosata, a famous Jew who flourished about a.d. 270, attempted the 
same thing, but was viewed as an apostate by the Jews, and as a 
heretic by the Christians. 


prohibiting Jews from possessing Christian slaves, 
whom they often had abused by forcible circumcision. 
The hostility of the Jews against the Christians 
was far from being mitigated by this change. In- 
stead of rejoicing at the prospect of the speedy abo- 
lition of idolatry, they regarded the triumph of Chris- 
tianity over Paganism with mingled emotions of envy 
and of anger ; and they looked round for an oppor- 
tunity of still gratifying their hatred ;— a hatred not 
as yet provoked by any injuries inflicted on them by 
the Christians. In the east they still succeeded in 
inflaming the Magi against them ; whilst the rise of 
the Arian heresy speedily afforded them an opportu- 
nity of indulging their rancour within the Roman 
territories. When the Arians proceeded to persecute 
the Trinitarians, the Jews of Alexandria aided the 
former and their heathen allies; and an unseemly 
combination of Jew, Pagan, and Heretic was wit- 
nessed against Christ. According to Athanasius, on 
this occasion they burned churches, violated conse- 
crated virgins, and were guilty of other excesses. 

The accession of Julian to the imperial throne, 
was, from his well-known enmity against Christianity, 
hailed by the Jews with delight. Principle was 
again lost sight of in the mists of passion ; and they 
cared not to see idolatry re-established, so that they 
might but behold their hated rival humbled at the 
same time. Julian exceeded their anticipations : it 
was agreeable both to his inclination and his policy 
to encourage those who were determined adversaries 
of the religion he abhorred ; and he therefore imme- 
diately rescinded the decrees of Constantine against 
them, relieved them from several taxes, and finally 
resolved not only to remove the ban, which had so 


long excluded them from Jerusalem, but to rebuild 
the temple on Mount Moriah, and to establish the 
Jewish worship in its ancient splendor. 

The Jews now declared Julian to be their Messiah, 
and came forward to the work of rebuilding with the 
utmost enthusiasm. Their ready offerings vied in 
extent and costliness with those of the first temple. 
Men and women of chief note among them deemed 
it the highest distinction to perform the most menial 
and laborious offices. Many of the tools they wrought 
with were of gold and silver, some of them set with 
jewels, and destined to be afterwards laid up as 
consecrated implements. Those who were unable 
to lend a helping hand, through age or infirmity, 
nevertheless flocked in multitudes to Palestine, to 
be spectators of the work. The Christians were pre- 
vented, both by the jealousy of the Jews and the 
officers of Julian, from approaching near to the sacred 
precincts; and awaited at a distance the result with 
breathless interest. He whom they worshipped as 
God had predicted the continued desolation of the 
Jewish temple, until the nation should acknowledge 
him as Messiah ; and the truth and the religion of 
Jesus appeared to be suspended on the issue. The 
Jews looked forward with the confidence of men, 
who saw the powers of this world enlisted on their 
side: the Christians had nothing to hope for but 
divine interposition. The work proceeded ; the build- 
ings previously erected on the holy site were re- 
moved, the ground cleared, and the new foundations 
laid ; when, suddenly, the mount trembled ; balls of 
fire burst from the foundations with a tremendous 
explosion, accompanied by a violent whirlwind; the 
workmen fled in consternation ; all that was accom- 


plished was overthrown ; and the design, thus signally 
interrupted, was finally prevented, by the premature 
death of Julian, in the second year of his reign. 1 

Jovian, the successor of Julian, immediately re- 
versed the decrees of his predecessor, and reduced 
the Jews to their previous condition. In subsequent 
reigns their circumstances fluctuated according to 
the disposition of the emperor: by one they were 
restricted from building synagogues ; by another 
those already built were closed: one while an ultra 
liberality prompted some to build houses of worship 
for them; at another time a zeal of Christianity, 
equally in the extreme, set their synagogues on fire 
or destroyed them. 2 

During the long reign of Theodosius II, Christianity 
became more firmly established ; but the Jews still 
ventured to shew their dislike to it by insults, though 
they dared not proceed to acts of violence. They 
cursed "the Galileans" in their synagogues, and 
blasphemed the name of Jesus in the public streets. 
But the feast of Purim was the opportunity which 
they chiefly availed themselves of for indulging their 
malignity. They had previously been accustomed to 

1 Tradition has, as usual, embellished the history of this event ; but 
the facts above stated are derived from the narrative of Ammianus 
Marcellinus, a friend of Julian, and from Gregory of Nazienzen, a 
sober Christian, who wrote his account of the event in the same year 
that it occurred. Mr. Gibbon, notwithstanding his constant prone- 
ness to disparage every thing partaking of the miraculous, not ex- 
cepting Christianity itself, is baffled with these facts, and compelled 
to admit the indisputable authority of the witnesses -, whilst at the 
same time he takes refuge in the notion, 'that at this important 
crisis any singular accident of nature would assume the appearance 
and produce the effect of a real prodigy.' (Aram. Marc. lib. xxiii. 1. 
Greg. Naz. orat. iv. Gibbon's Rome, vol. iv. p. 107, ed. 1802.) 

2 Even the good Ambrose, of Milan, exults in having stirred up his 
people not to leave any place standing where Christ was denied. 
(Ep, to Theodosius.) 


dress up a figure, which they called Haman, and to 
suspend him on a gibbet in the synagogue : they 
now proceeded to affix this effigy to a cross in the 
open street, and with significant demonstrations, 
that they identified Haman with Jesus, they heaped 
upon it every possible mark of ignominy and deri- 
sion. This led to serious tumults in various places, 
not unfrequently terminating in bloodshed and the 
destruction of their synagogues ; to prevent which 
Theodosius at length prohibited the public solem- 
nization of the festival. 1 


[a.d. 379— 526.]— During the sovereignty of Theo- 
dosius and his associate Gratian, the Roman govern- 
ment and territory were by him divided into the 
eastern and western empires; and about the same 
period commenced those irruptions of the Goths and 
Huns, followed by the inroads of other barbarian 
tribes, which led to the extinction of the western 
empire with Augustulus, a.d. 476. 

During the disorders which ensued, in the progress 
of these events, the authority of the Christians over 
the Jews was greatly weakened. In some instances 
both parties were involved in the same disasters; 

i There were not indeed wanting instances of violence on the part 
of the Jews. At Immestar, near Antioch, they seized a Christian 
boy, and having fastened him to a cross, scourged him so unmerci- 
fully that he died. At Alexandria they raised a cry during the night, 
that the principal church was on fire, and then attacked the Chris- 
tians, as they sallied forth to render assistance, and slew many. But 
they paid dearly for this outrage ; for the next day Cyril, the arch- 
bishop, attacked them in return, expelled them from the city, and 
gave up their houses to pillage. The spirit, however, and conduct of 
Cyril, notwithstanding they are set forth by the Christian historian 
Socrates, do not shine on this occasion. 


but more commonly, by their readiness for transit, 
the Jews were enabled to avoid the storm, and after- 
wards to approach their barbarian invaders as friends. 
They followed their camp and trafficked with them 
for the spoil, and more especially for the captives ; 
whereby they again became possessed of the persons 
of Christians, whom they often treated with great 
tyranny. Sometimes they actually took up arms, 
and joined with the barbarians in their attacks upon 
the Christians, or helped to defend those places 
already captured. 1 


[a.d. 527— 622.]— When Justinian came to the 
purple, the spirit of superstition and intolerance, 
which had been gradually developing itself in the 
Christian church, began to assume that determined 
character and form, commonly denominated Popery, 
and to exercise a powerful influence on the circum- 
stances of the Jews. Their position with their hea- 
then allies had been precarious ; and they were not 
unfrequently despoiled and oppressed by them: but 
when the barbarian conquerors themselves yielded 
to the religion of those whom they had vanquished, 
and infused at the same time into their Christianity 
no small degree of ignorance and ferocity, the Jews 
began to discover that they had been abetting those 
who were likely to become the most tyrannical of all 
their oppressors. 

Previous to the time of Justinian, the Jews can 
scarcely be said to have been persecuted by the Chris- 

• Gibbon, Decline and Fall of Roman Empire, vol. vii. p. 219. 


tians, beyond that retaliation, or those restrictive 
measures, which had been continually provoked by 
their own insolence and malice. The occasional 
destruction of their synagogues appear to have been 
the only acts of wilful aggression on the part of the 
Christians; and these were directed not so much 
against the persons as the religion of the Jews. 
Nor does it seem to have been other than a measure 
of reasonable protection of his subjects, that Justi- 
nian should publish edicts emancipating those Chris- 
tians who were the slaves of Jews, and prohibiting 
the Jews from possessing such property for the time 
to come. 1 But Justinian soon went beyond this, and 
disqualified them from holding military and civil 
offices in the state ; and greatly circumscribed their 
privileges in other respects. 

The Jews now looked toward the east, in the hope 
that some opportunity might present itself of still 
obtaining their political restoration, by means of the 
despots of those countries. In this expectation they 
offered their assistance to Chosroes I. of Persia, pro- 
vided he would attack Jerusalem ; but the fact being 
discovered, Justinian inflicted on them a severe 

The Samaritans were likewise severely handled 
by Justinian ; and may here be finally noticed. In 
the time of Hadrian, when the impostor Barchochebas 
arose, the Jews, for the first time, courted their al- 
liance ; but their offers being rejected, they became 
more exasperated against them than ever. The 

i The barbarian converts of the west were, at the instigation of 
their bishops, quickly induced to issue similar decrees. Letters are 
still extant from Pope Gregory to the kings of the Franks, in which he 
urges, that in permitting Christ's members to be trampled on by Jews, 
they were permitting Christ himself to be trampled on. 


Samaritans nevertheless, at a later period, imbibed 
much of the Jewish zealotry against the Christians, 
and in the reign of Zeno broke into their church at 
Neapolis, (the ancient Sichem and the modern Na- 
plouse,) and slew many whilst they were engaged in 
divine worship. For this they were expelled from that 
city ; but afterwards permitted to settle there again. 
In the present instance they were incited to revolt 
by a false Messiah named Julian, who every where 
attacked the Christians, and burned their churches. 
They were defeated however by the troops of Justi- 
nian with a loss of 20,000 in killed ; an equal num- 
ber was sold into slavery ; and the subsequent severe 
enactments of the emperor induced the remainder for 
the most part to become Christians. For he prohib- 
ited them, as Samaritans, from inheriting and from 
bequeathing property; their testimony was rejected, 
not only against Christians, but even against Jews ; 
and their synagogues were every where destroyed. 1 
Thus was this people, who from the first were never 
independent, now almost annihilated. In later ages 
they were supposed altogether to have disappeared ; 
but a small community of them has nevertheless been 
discovered still to exist, collected together again at 
Naplouse. 2 

1 Gibbon says of them, *that they were a motley race, an ambiguous 
sect; rejected as Jews by the Pagans, by the Jews as schismatics, 
and by the Christians as idolaters.* (vol. viii. p. 323.) 

3 They were first discovered in the sixteenth century. The learned 
Scaliger at that time directed letters to them ; but the answers did not 
arrive until 1589, at which time he was deceased. In 1761 they were 
visited by the Rev. Robert Huntingdon, Chaplain to the English Fac- 
tory at Aleppo. In 1812 Baron Silvestre de Sacy wrote to them ; but, 
in order to ascertain their real religious sentiments, unwarrantably 
feigned that he himself was of their nation. In 1820 Dr. Naudi and 
the Rev. W. Jowett, then at Malta, obtained further information 
concerning them from an Italian traveller, at which time they con- 
2 K 


Notwithstanding what the Jews suffered from the 
discovery of their proceeding with the king of Persia, 
they nevertheless, when Chosroes II. prepared to in- 
vade the empire, renewed their offers. These being 
accepted, they raised an army of 24,000 men ; and 
whilst Chosroes himself advanced upon Constantin- 
ople, the Jews, under Carusia, his general, and a body 
of Persians, marched with their usual excitement to 
the conquest of Palestine. Jerusalem was captured ; 
and the Jews once more found themselves masters of 
the sacred ground. But it did not inspire them with 
commensurate feelings of gratitude and mercy. For 
not satisfied with the excesses committed by them- 
selves and their allies on the taking of the city, they 
bid the Persians a price for the prisoners, amounting 
to ninety thousand, and, having obtained possession 
of them, butchered the whole in cold blood. In con- 
junction with their brethren of Damascus, Tiberias, 
and other places, they next laid a plot for surprising 
Tyre ; but were prevented by the vigilance of the in- 
habitants : and their triumph in Jerusalem was but 
of short duration ; for the emperor Heraclius defeated 
Chosroes, and drove him back into his own territory ; 
and having recovered Syria and expelled the Jews 

sisted of eighty families. Their manners are simple \ they possess the 
Pentateuch in the ancient Samaritan character j they believe in a 
coming Messiah, whom they call Hathab ; OnnrT) they say their 
priest is descended from Levi ; they have the figure of a dove on their 
sacred book, which has caused a report that they worship it; but this 
they deny, and consider it only an emblem of the Deity, in the same 
manner that Christians represent the Paraclete, or Comforter, by a 
dove. They used at their passover to sacrifice a sheep on Mount 
Gerizim, where they allege it can only lawfully be offered j but for 
the last forty years, having been prohibited from ascending the Mount, 
they offer it at Naplouse, which they consider within its limits. A 
reported sacrifice on Mount Ebal they disclaim. (See Annals of Voy- 
ages, published in Paris in J 812, No. 52 j Jewish Expositor, vol. i. p. 
88 ; Memoire sur les Samaritaines, par M. Silvestre de Sacy,) 


from the holy city, he revived the decree of Hadrian, 
which prohibited their approach within three miles. 


[a.d. 629— 814.]— The rise, or rather the burst forth, 
of Mahometanism, in the year 629, as it greatly af- 
fected the religious circumstances of half the world, 
could not fail also to exercise a considerable influ- 
ence upon the Jews. 

Whilst the Romans and the Persians were con- 
tending for the mastery, this " king of fierce counte- 
nance " was quietly growing up in Arabia Felix. 1 In 
a district of it called Homerites the Jews had a set- 
tlement, in which they still enjoyed a comparative 
independence. Cut off by a dreary intervening de- 
sert from Palestine and the Greek and Roman settle-* 
ments ; flanked by inaccessible fastnesses and by the 
Red Sea ; they were unknown to the rest of the world, 
and had here several strong castles and a prince over 
them. But the wrath of God pursued them even into 
this their hiding-place, and they were the first to 
suffer from Mahometan fanaticism. The early disci- 
ples of the false prophet seem to have expected, from 
the foundation of patriarchal history embodied in the 
Koran, that the Jews would have welcomed Mahomet; 
and they were therefore so much the more exasper- 
ated, when the Messiahship of their leader was de- 
nied, because he was not a Jew. They consequently 
determined to purify their own country first from the 
defiling contact of a contrary faith ; and attacking 

l Mahomet was born in a.d. 569, preached at Mecca a.d. 609, was 
declared prince of Medina a.d. 622, and commenced the conquest of 
Arabia a.d. 629. 

2 K 2 


them in their strong-holds, they captured their for- 
tresses one after the other, putting the males to death 
and selling the women and children into slavery. 
Those of Fadai and Khaibar were the only excep- 
tions, who obtained terms of capitulation, and were 
permitted to withdraw. Having thus cleared this 
region, and likewise reduced all Arabia, in an incre- 
dibly short space of time they over-ran great portion 
of Asia, Northern Africa, and the opposite coast of 
Spain ; in all which parts Christianity shrank before 
their withering influence. 

But having driven the Jews from Arabia, the Ma- 
hometans did not seek any further quarrel with them 
at present ; and the former therefore now followed 
the victorious armies of the latter, as they had pre- 
viously done those of the Goths and Vandals; sup- 
plied them with provisions, purchased their plunder, 
and once more became possessed of Christian cap- 

In the year 693, the Spaniards, under pretence that 
the Jews were conspiring against the state, passed a 
decree, in which they confiscated their property, abo- 
lished their religion, reduced the adults to slavery, 
and determined to separate their children from them, 
and bring them up as Christians. The Jews however 
fled into Africa to the Moors, and speedily returned 
with their new masters to wreak a terrible vengeance 
on their old ones. Spain was conquered ; after which 
the Jews were not only protected by the Mahometans 
but rewarded, and enjoyed in that country a golden 
season of prosperity. 

A well-grounded apprehension, that they might 
direct the feet of their new patrons to all places where 
they were oppressed, caused those kingdoms which 


were not yet conquered by the Mahometans to relax 
in their severities. The Jews were permitted to en- 
joy a lucrative traffic, they filled offices of dignity, 
and became in several instances the confidential 
agents of princes. 1 To this advancement the superior 
learning and intelligence of the Jews greatly contri- 
buted ; which formed during this period a striking 
contrast to the increasing neglect of education on the 
part of the Christians. 2 They likewise rendered 
themselves acceptable to the Greek emperors, when 
the crusade against images arose, by joining with the 
Iconoclasts ; — a combination on the part of the Jews, 
which, though prompted by the same hostility to 
Jesus that had led them to unite with Pagans, Arians, 
Goths, and Mussulmen, had in this instance the acci- 
dental credit of being in accordance with the insti- 
tutes of Moses, and directed against a foul excres- 
cence which had grown up on Christianity, 


The milder aspect which Popery and Mahometan- 

i A Jew, named Isaac, was the cabinet minister of Charlemagne, 
and sent by him twice on confidential embassies to the Caliph Haroun 
Alraschid. Another, named Zedekiah, was the physician and adviser 
of Louis le Debonnaire, with whom he had sufficient influence to pro- 
cure the alteration of markets, which fell on the Jewish sabbath, to 
some other day. 

2 Nathan, a learned Jew of Cordova of the llth century, is said to 
have been followed by seven hundred chariots, containing his disci- 
ples. Aben Ezra, David Kimchi, Solomon Jarchi, and Moses Maimo- 
nides, all eminently learned men, flourished in the twelfth century. 
The latter is esteemed by many of the Jews to have been the prince 
of learned men, and the year of his death was called the lamentum 
lamentabile. (Buxtorf, Prajf. in Moreh. Nev.) The more bigoted Tal- 
mudists however consider Isaac Abarbanel, a Spanish Jew of the 16th 
century, his superior ; perhaps because he was a more determined 
enemy of Jesus, and his works not so free from the trammels of rab- 


ism for awhile presented to the Jew might have led 
him to mistake their real genius: but no sooner 
were those revolutions completed which finally estab- 
lished and limited them, than the gleam of sunshine 
which the Jews had delighted in was overcast, and 
ages of misery and woe succeeded, 1 compared with 
which all that they had yet suffered, unparalleled as 
it was, proved but as " the beginning of sorrows ! " 
They had yet to wring out and drink the dregs of the 
cup of trembling which the Lord had put into their 
hand. Popery in particular frowned upon them; 
which is the more remarkable, because the principles 
which constituted it were the counterpart of that 
rabbinism which had grown up in the Jewish church, 
and were indeed derived from it by the early Juda- 
izing fathers : viz. an exaltation of human traditions 
over the verities of Scripture ; a superstitious multi- 
plication of ceremonies and of the forms of godliness, 
to the neglect of its power; and an intolerant and 
fanatical bigotry, which considered the expression of 
its hatred against those who differed from it, as the 
most decisive evidence of piety toward God. An op- 
portunity will offer in the next chapter of tracing 
the resemblance more closely. 

The clergy of the Romish church, now ignorant, 
superstitious, and bigoted, had throughout regarded 
the prosperity of the Jews with jealousy; and those 
princes who had more decidedly favoured them had 
not escaped the imputation of infidelity. At length 
the representations and influence of the ecclesiastics 

1 The ninth and two following centuries are commonly accounted 
the dark ages, from the ignorance which then prevailed ; but if we 
regard the reign of bigotry and superstition, we must extend the 
period down to the era of the Reformation, comprehending at least 
seven centuries. 


prevailed, and to trample on the Jew came to be 
generally considered as an act of merit in the sight of 
God. They were again disqualified from military and 
civil offices ; and were now riot permitted to purchase 
or rent land, to act as stewards or bailiffs, or in any 
capacity which could give them the slightest autho- 
rity over Christians. Not only was their testimony 
against Christians refused, but they were prohibited 
from maintaining suits at law against them. In the 
principal cities and towns they were confined to a 
particular district, in which they were commonly 
locked up at night ; and they were degraded by some 
badge or article of dress to distinguish them from 
other citizens. 1 In Austria they were forbidden the use 
of the baths, and even of the inns, resorted to by Chris- 
tians ; and Christians were interdicted from social in- 
tercourse with them. In Portugal the name of Jew 
came to be so infamous, that the Christian who was 
called by it was permitted to stab the offender with 
impunity. At Thoulouse it became a custom to smite 
them on the face at Easter. But it remained for the 
Germans to affix the deepest stigma on them, and to 
degrade them to the level of cattle, causing them to 
pay toll for passing through the gates on their high- 
ways. 2 Nor was the dark spirit of superstition then 
prevailing satisfied with having thus rendered Israel 
a proverb, a byword, a taunt, a reproach, a curse, 

1 In France it was a piece of blue cloth on the front and back of 
their garment, called the rouelle; in England it was two stripes of 
white cloth or of parchment, called cables. (See Observations on the 
Statutes, p. 180.) At Vienna it was a pointed cap j and by the orders 
of Pope Innocent III. all the Papal States were obliged to adopt some 
such mark. 

2 Toll tables are still to be found in that country, on which is in- 
scribed, " For a horse 2 kreutzers, a pig 2kreutzers, a Jew 1 kreutzer," 
&c. (See Hirschfield's Strictures on the Jews, p. 88.) 


as had been foretold of them : 1 it was also predicted 
that the heaven over their head should become as 
brass, and the earth under their feet as iron; 2 signi- 
fying that the powers which ruled over them and 
the people among whom they sojourned, should* be 
rigorous and persecuting : and accordingly we find 
them, in this same period, buffeted, robbed, despoiled, 
exiled, slaughtered, both by their governors and fel- 
low subjects. But a separate notice of their treatment 
in the principal countries of Papal Europe, during 
this season of darkness, will best enable the reader to 
understand their actual condition. 

Germany.— In regard to Germany, it is sufficient 
to mention the Crusades, which, though the cause of 
great suffering to the Jews in most countries, were 
especially so in this ; where also the example was first 
set of making them an occasion of persecution to 
Israel. For when, at the latter end of the eleventh 
century, the first body of crusaders was preparing to 
depart for the Holy Land, and was assembled near 
Treves, it was suggested by some of them that they 
were about to leave as great enemies of Christ behind 
them, as any whom they were likely to find in Pales- 
tine; upon which they rushed to the city, massacred 
all the Jews they could reach, and pillaged their 
houses. Similar scenes ensued at Metz, Cologne, 
Worms, Spires, and in various other towns of the 
Moselle and Rhine, the Maine and Danube. Many 
Jewish women on these occasions, in order to save 
themselves from violation, fastened stones to their 
bodies and plunged into the rivers ; whilst Jewish 
parents slew their children to save them from bap- 

1 Deut. xxviii. 37? Jer. xxiv. 8, 9 ; Ezek. v. 13—15. 
2 Deut. xxviii. 23. 


tism and abuse. After this precedent, it became the 
usual practice, in the several crusades which followed 
in the two succeeding centuries, for the warriors, be- 
fore they set out, to whet their courage and prove 
their weapons upon Jewish victims. Nor did this 
persecution cease on the arrival of the crusaders in 
Palestine, where Israel was constantly hunted down ; 
it being considered equally meritorious to kill a Jew 
as a Saracen. 1 

In the fourteenth century a body of fanatics of a 
different order passed through the cities of Germany, 
inflicting voluntary flagellation on themselves as an 
atonement for the sins of the country, from which 
circumstance they were called Flagellants. A large 
crucifix was borne before them, and the blood which 
flowed from their naked and lacerated backs afforded 
evidence that there was no imposture. But supersti- 
tion again aimed its shaft at the unpitied Jew ; and 
the wondering multitude were easily induced to be- 
lieve, that their sins would be still more fully atoned 
for by the sacrifice of the enemies of Christ. They 
therefore again rose upon the Jews, and in the cities 
of Silesia, Poland, Lithuania, Brandenburg, Bohe- 
mia, and other parts of Germany, the same tragedies 
were performed as in the times of the crusaders. 

Spain. — In those parts of Spain possessed by the 
Moors, the Jews enjoyed a longer period of quiet; 
with the exception of one serious persecution in the 

i The extent to which they were slaughtered in the East during the 
first crusade may be judged by the fact, that Benjamin of Tudela, a 
Jew who visited Palestine in the interval between the first and second 
crusades, states in his Journal, that he only found 50 Jews at Tiberias, 
and about 400 at Tyre ; at both which places they had previously 
abounded. Mr. Gibbon considers " that they had not felt a more 
bloody stroke since the persecution of Hadrian."— (Decline and Fall 
of Rom. Emp. vol. ix. p. 26.) 


middle of the eleventh century, arising from their own 
indiscretion, in attempting to convert their Mahome- 
dan protectors. The disciples of the false prophet were 
immediately aroused, and in the first paroxysm of 
their indignation they hanged all the Jewish teachers, 
plundered fifteen hundred of the wealthiest families, 
each vying with the grandees in opulence, and put to 
death many others. 

In other parts however of Spain they were griev- 
ously oppressed throughout the dark ages; and in 
the provinces of Arragon and Castile, during the thir- 
teenth and two following centuries, they suffered 
dreadful calamities. Four times a persecution was 
raised against them at Toledo alone ; in regard to one 
of which, commenced by the bishop and terminated 
by the crusaders, Abarbanel declares, that more Jews 
were driven by it from Spain than left Egypt under 

At length in 1492, Ferdinand and Isabella, having 
put a final termination to the dominion of the Moors 
in Spain, whose power had been gradually weakened 
for some time previous, resolved also to expel the 
Jews ; who were all ordered to quit the realm within 
a limited period, on pain of death, unless they sub- 
mitted to baptism. For the most part they preferred 
banishment ; and an immense multitude, varying ac- 
cording to different writers from 300,000 to 800,000, 
prepared to depart. They were not permitted to carry 
with them any gold or silver ; and their other pro- 
perty was so depreciated by the glut of it thrown into 
the market, and the compulsory circumstances of sale, 
that a house was given for a mule and a vineyard for 
a piece of linen. The miseries which they next en- 
dured, in endeavouring to reach some place of refuge, 


are calculated to excite both horror and indignation, 
when it is considered that they were inflicted upon 
them by a miscalled Christianity. In some of the 
vessels in which they embarked, they were first car- 
ried out to sea and plundered of what they still pos- 
sessed, and the vessels were then scuttled with their 
unhappy freight on board. In others, after being 
robbed in like manner, their lives were spared only 
for their persons to be sold into captivity on the op- 
posite shores, or to be landed on a desert coast and 
abandoned. A large multitude of them offered a 
considerable portion of their remaining effects to the 
king of Portugal for liberty of transit through his 
dominions ; but it was only turning from one op- 
pressor to another ; " as if," according to their pro- 
phet, " a man did flee from a lion and a bear met 
him." 1 The king of Portugal granted their request, 
but under various pretences delayed the embarkation 
of the first bands that arrived, until he had the entire 
number of applicants within his territory ; when he 
perfidiously seized and condemned them to slavery, 
unless they submitted to baptism. The children un- 
der fourteen years of age were at once separated from 
their parents and baptized ; upon which many Jews, 
on condition of having their children restored to them, 
conformed to Christianity; but others, preferring 
death, first slew their children and then themselves. 2 
Those who received baptism only deferred their fate; 
for they were all soon after set upon and butchered, 
because some of the number had been seen to smile 
at a pretended miracle. Those who succeeded in 
getting away from the ports of Spain, after having 

1 Amos v. 19. 2 Murphy's Portugal, p. 695. 


endured unparalleled cruelties from the Moors of 
Africa, found shelter at length in Constantinople, 
where, though despised, they have ever since been 
permitted to reside. 

England. — A massacre of the Jews of London, 
which occurred at the coronation of our first Richard, 
was considered by his subjects to have cast a lustre, 
instead of an indelible stigma, upon the commence- 
ment of his reign. 1 The flame of this persecution 
spread through the kingdom, and similar massacres 
ensued in other places. In the city of York, the Jews, 
in order to avoid the storm, took refuge in the castle; 
where a tragedy ensued similar to that which was 
enacted at the taking of Massada. For the Jews, 
having reason to suspect the integrity of the governor, 
took advantage of his temporary absence, and closed 
the gates of the castle, of which they maintained pos- 
session. The populace rushed to attack them, head- 
ed by one of the residentiary canons, who continued 
to vociferate, " Destroy the enemies of Jesus," until he 
was killed by a stone from the besieged. 2 The pro- 
visions however of the Jews failing, they came to the 
resolution of destroying each other, with the excep- 
tion of a small minority who were permitted to retire to 
the walls. They first set fire to the castle, next put their 
wives and children to death, and then cut the throats 
of each other ; the rabbi, who was the last, resolutely 
destroying himself. At day-break the people beheld 
the flames bursting forth from the castle, and, hasten- 
ing to the walls, saw only the miserable remnant who 
had feared to die, and who, with uplifted hands 
offered to submit to baptism. The terms were ac- 

1 Hume and Smollet's Hist. Eng. 
2 Curiosities of Literature, vol. ii. p. 427. 


cepted and the gates were opened ; but a multitude 
has no faith, and the populace rushing in, put them 
all to the sword. 1 

The princes, however, of England became more 
conspicuous for extorting money from the Jews, than 
for shedding their blood. John, the successor of 
Richard, at first caressed them, and granted them 
many privileges ; but it was only to inveigle them 
into his dominions, for the purpose of afterwards 
plundering them. When the time arrived for throw- 
ing off the mask, he seized and imprisoned them, 
confiscated their property, and put them to the tor- 
ture, to discover where their property was concealed. 
By this treachery he is said to have acquired sixty 
thousand marks, — a vast sum in those days. Henry 
III. afterwards extorted from them more than double 
that sum ; and then sold them to his brother Richard, 
with full liberty to plunder them as he pleased. 2 

Edward I. in like manner played the extortioner, 
and then, having impoverished them to the utmost, 
he, in the year 1290, obtained the inglorious distinc- 
tion of being the first who expelled them altogether 
from his dominions. These, to the number of 15,000, 
were first robbed, by those who conducted them to 
the seaports, of the pittance left them to pay their 
charges, and then, for the most part, thrown into the 
waves by the sailors and drowned. 4 

France. — The French princes pursued the like 

1 A place in York, called Jew -bury, still points out the spot where 
their remains were interred. 

2 Matt. Paris Hist. Eng.; Adams's Hist, of the Jews; Basnage, 
p. 678. Henry's reign was likewise stained by a massacre of 500 Jews 
in London, which massacre was promoted by the mayor. — Chron. T. 
Wykes, p. 59. 

3 Tovey's Anglia Judaica. * Walsingham's Hist, on Chron. p. 54. 


system of plundering the Jews. Philip Augustus 
confiscated all debts due to them, and compelled 
them to surrender all the pledges into the royal trea- 
sury. At another time he surrounded them in their 
synagogues and detained them, until his officers had 
pillaged their houses ; after which he commanded 
them instantly to quit the kingdom. 

In the reigns of Louis VIII. and Louis IX. the 
Jews having returned, the same exactions were re- 
peated ; though the circumstance that they could 
have any amount of property to be plundered of, after 
having so frequently been impoverished, shews how 
rapidly, by means of usury and other practices, they 
must have been enabled to acquire wealth. 1 But 
the Jews also suffered other grievances in these 
reigns: in the former they were declared the pro- 
perty of the lords of the manors on which they hap- 
pened to reside ; in the latter they were forbidden 
the process of arrest or seizure of goods for debt. 5 * 

But the event most seriously affecting the Jews, 
in the reign of Louis IX. was the rising of the Pas- 
toreaux, or shepherds, which occurred a.d. 1317. The 
king was at this time made prisoner by the Saracens ; 
and by' a perversion of the prophecy of Micah v. 5, 
a monk led the shepherds to believe that they were 

i Philip Augustas, for the protection of the borrowers, had fixed the 
usury which the Jews were permitted to take at two deniers on the 
I tore weekly, or about 50 per cent. At a later period they were al- 
lowed to take four deniers the livre, about 100 per cent. How much 
more must it have been, when left, without any regulation, to the na- 
tural avarice of the human heart ! 

2 The Court of Assize in Brittany determined in this reign not to re- 
ceive evidence against those, who might kill a Jew ; thus directly en- 
couraging their murder. And in the next century the clergy of Lan- 
guedoc excommunicated those who supplied a Jew with fire, water y 
bread, or wine ! There were however, throughout, some honourable 
exceptions among the clergy to this spirit of bigotry and intolerance. 


divinely appointed to deliver the holy sepulchre from 
infidels, and to rescue their monarch from captivity. 
They were led on by a priest with a white cross ; and 
wheresoever they appeared the peasantry forsook 
their customary pursuits and joined them. But, 
like the Crusaders and Flagellants, they also fell 
upon the Jews, who were allowed no alternative but 
baptism or death. Nor did the persecution termi- 
nate here. The desertion of the fields by the rural 
population caused a famine in the following year, 
and that a pestilence ; on which rumours were cir- 
culated that the rivers and fountains had been poi- 
soned. Whenever a culprit was wanted, on whom 
to fix an accusation, the Jew was sure to be selected; 
and it was scarcely possible for excitement to exist 
from any cause among the people, but it finished by 
an attack on this unhappy race. 1 They were there- 
fore again assailed as the presumed authors of the 
national calamity ; and in many provinces numbers 
were seized and burned. 

Philip IV. again expelled the Jews, having first 
seized their goods, confiscated their debts, and con- 
verted their synagogues into churches. Louis X. on 
account of the state of his exchequer, permitted them 
to return for twelve years. Charles VI. a third time 
banished them ; but under the regent of the kingdom, 
in the time of John, they negotiated and obtained for 
money another term of settlement for twenty years ; 
and were finally exiled for a considerable period 
under Charles IV. though he was moderate enough 

i In Germany, in the 13th century, Frederick II. protected the 
Jews, and caused the popular rumours against them of their mur- 
dering children on the passover, crucifying boys, &c, to he rigidly 
investigated, and proved them to be groundless; but he was in 
consequence suspected of not being sound in the faith. 


to permit them first to get in their debts, and dispose 
of their property. 

The remarkable circumstance is, that the Jews 
should desire to re-enter kingdoms at all, in which 
they had experienced so much perfidy and persecu- 
tion : but, alas, poor Jew ! whither was he to betake 
him ? All other kingdoms were now become as inhos- 
pitably barred against him! The time was come 
when, according to their prophets, " all that found 
them devoured them, and said, We offend not, be- 
cause they have sinned against the Lord, the habita- 
tion of justice,— even the Lord, the hope of their 
fathers." (Jer. i. 7.) 

Eastern Countries.— The east had become equally 
closed against them. The causes of their being now 
persecuted by the Mahommedan powers are not so 
obvious ; but the fact itself is beyond dispute. Some 
attribute it to their having frequently intermeddled 
with the political struggles of those powers ; others 
to the excitement so frequently created by their false 
prophets and Messiahs. For both these inferences 
there is a foundation ; * and they were undoubtedly 
among those second causes permitted of God, in 
order to accomplish his wrath upon the entire 

1 False Messiahs were so numerous throughout the middle and dark 
ages, that no less than ten arose in France, Spain, Moravia, and Persia, 
in the 12th century alone ; some of whom were the means of involv- 
ing the Jews in great calamities. False prophets, predicting the time 
of Messiah's coming, were equally frequent ; till at length the Persian 
Shah Abbas, in the 16th century, ordered the Rabbins to fix a time 
within which the Messiah should certainly come ; threatening them 
with extermination in case of failure. The Rabbins discreetly named 
seventy years, concluding that would exceed the term of the Shah's 
life) but 150 years afterwards a successor of the Shah was reminded 
of this treaty, and a persecution of the Jews followed in his domi- 
nions, which continued for three years. (Mod. Univ. Hist, vol.xiii.) 


The reader may be spared, after having had so 
much of massacre and pillage brought before him, a 
particular recital of all the instances in which the 
Jews of the East suffered like calamities. Let it suf- 
fice, that after having endured various afflictions in 
those parts, they were, in the tenth and eleventh cen- 
turies, visited by the caliphs with a persecution, which 
terminated with the final suppression of their schools, 
and the public execution of their Resch Glutha or 
prince of the captivity. Since this period they have 
been treated with great tyranny and caprice in all 
the Mahommedan states. The sultan Motovakel had 
indeed forbidden them to wear certain articles of ap- 
parel of the same material as " the faithful/' and fur- 
ther degraded them by a distinctive badge, before the 
Christians proceeded to do so; and his example was 
followed in other countries. 1 

In addition to their treatment by Mahommedans 
and Papists, it may be mentioned that Benjamin of 
Tudela likewise found the Jews in the twelfth cen- 
tury greatly reduced by persecution in the dominions 
of the Greek emperors, where they were still op- 
pressed and insulted. 2 Some page indeed of the his- 
tory of almost every nation is stained with Jewish 

In this manner has it pleased Him, who is never- 
theless the God and Father of Israel, to humble his 

1 The Sultan's decree was in a.d. 847. In Constantinople the badge 
is a blue slipper; in the empire of Morocco it is a black slipper. 

2 The 1 cinerarium of Benjamin is but little to be depended on, when 
he describes places which he never visited, and events which he 
gleaned only from the report of others : for he appears to have been 
credulous, in regard to all that was related to him, however absurd. 
There is no ground however for mistrusting him when he relates what 
he actually saw and investigated himself. 

2 L 


people in the sight of the Gentile world, by a series 
of judgments unparalleled for their severity and long 
continuance. They have at length been brought to 
that pass, that they truly u have no power to stand 
against their enemies ; but pine away in the iniquity 
of their fathers and in their own iniquity in their 
enemies' lands:" 1 and they have exhibited most 
exactly that picture of political prostration described 
by Isaiah in the latter part of the following passage : 
" Behold, I have taken out of thine hand the cup of 
trembling, even the dregs of the cup of my fury ; — 
thou shalt no more drink it again : but I will put it 
into the hand of them that afflict thee ; which have 
said to thy soul, Bow down, that we may go over. And 


1 Lev. xxvi. 37—40. 2 Isaiah li. 22, 23. 




The prophecy which concluded the last chapter 
clearly intimates, as many other scriptures do, that 
a period of fearful retribution is coming upon the 
nations ; who have provoked it by ages of apostacy 
and wickedness, in which they have persisted, not- 
withstanding the signal chastisements which have 
at times been brought upon them. God has indeed 
frequently given the nations an earnest of his wrath, 
and of his jealousy for Israel, even in the period 
just reviewed, when they have wantonly trampled 
upon or abused his people. It would not be diffi- 
cult to shew, that in those awful and extensive massa- 
cres perpetrated by the Jews in Egypt, Cyrene, and 
other places, the victims of them had provoked the 
vengeance of God by their profligate conduct toward 
Israel : but in some instances the act of retribution 
has been more manifest. As the first persecution of 
the Jews, for example, in Spain arid Portugal was im- 
mediately followed by the invasion of those countries 
by the Moors ; under such circumstances as brought 
conviction home to the other kingdoms of Europe, 

2 L 2 


and deterred them for awhile from persisting in their 
tyranny ; so, after their final expulsion from Spain, 
that country became so impoverished, that it bitterly 
regretted the measure ; and from that period indeed 
has been dated the decline of its power and gran- 
deur. That army of crusaders, which in Germany 
first raised the cry of persecution, lost three hundred 
thousand men by successive disasters, before they 
had taken a single city ; and the next band which 
followed, composed of warriors of superior rank, 
found, upon reviewing the troops before Antioch, the 
number of sixty thousand horses, with which they 
had set forth, reduced to two thousand. 1 Not only was 
the attack upon the Jews by the Pastoreaux followed 
by famine and pestilence, but also their banishment by 
Charles IV, which produced an extensive mortality. 
Both in France and England the clamour against the 
Jews was often raised by their debtors, who hoped 
thereby to escape from payment ; but they as often 
suffered for their dishonesty: debts though confis- 
cated were not remitted ; the crown proved a more 
potent and inexorable creditor than the Jew ; and 
whilst the latter frequently dared not move proceed- 
ings, but sufFered bonds and pledges to slumber 
quietly in his chest; the former promptly exacted 
the uttermost farthing ; — sometimes even giving a 
portion of what might be recovered to the Jews, in 
order to induce them to verify the full amount of 
their debts. 2 Nor did the Jews fail to notice the 
personal misfortunes and humiliations which over- 
took their great persecutors, Richard and John of 
England, and Louis IX. of France. 

i Gibbon, vol. xi. p. 26. 
-2 Abbe Gregoire on the Reformation of the Jews, p. 28. 


The instances, however, just related are but as the 
drops which precede the storm of that day of gloomi- 
ness and thick darkness which is to overtake the 
Gentiles, when the cup of trembling shall be put 
into their hand. But as we have seen that times of 
revival were vouchsafed to Israel, previous to great 
judgments overtaking them, so the Protestant Refor- 
mation, and the seasons of refreshment which have 
followed, appear to be similar visitations of mercy in 
behalf of the Gentiles ; by means of which God is more 
speedily accomplishing the number of his elect from 
among them, whilst he leaves the mass to fill up the 
measure of their iniquity, and to bring on themselves 
wrath to the uttermost. And it is specially worthy of 
remark, in this view of the subject, that along with the 
reformation there have privily grown up mischievous 
and deadly principles of anarchy and infidelity, 
which have already produced their first fruits, and 
convulsed the world by the revolution of 1792 ; and 
which are now so manifestly preparing for another 
and still more terrible explosion, that men's hearts 
begin to fail them for fear, and for looking after 
those things which are coming on the earth. 1 Our 
present business, however, is more immediately to 
notice the influence which these events have had 
upon the Jews of the dispersion. 

The light which burst in upon Europe, at the 
period of the reformation, gradually brought back 
the Protestants to those principles, which, in the 
primitive ages of Christianity, had taught the disci- 
ples of Jesus to exercise pity and forbearance toward 
Israel, and to consider themselves debtors for the 

1 See a " Brief Sketch of the Rise and Progress of Antichristian In- 
fidelity," in vol. ii. p. 215 of Mr. Faber's Sacred Calendar of Prophecy. 


immense blessings which they had indirectly re- 
ceived through their fall, and more directly from 
those devoted men who were the first Jewish con- 
verts to Christianity. The Reformers however did 
littie for the Jews ^beyond writing favourably in their 
behalf: their own affairs absorbed their attention, and 
the welfare of Israel was imperceptibly lost sight of. 1 
Neither is the removal of inveterate prejudices the 
work of a day : wherefore among the unenlightened 
mass, even in Protestant countries, ancient antipathies 
prevented them from seeing any thing in the Jews be- 
sides those characteristics which their own oppression 
of them had chiefly produced, and from recollecting 
any thing of their earlier history, except their bitter- 
ness against Christ and his followers. Even in Eng- 
land, so renowned for the part it took in the refor- 
mation, though the Jews were allowed quietly to 
return into the country, it excited a considerable 
ferment when, at a later period, it was proposed to 
remove some of their political disabilities. 2 

A period of lethargy and of comparative gloom suc- 
ceeded in the Protestant kingdoms to the first spread 

i There were however numerous instances of conversion from 
among the Jews, arising from the attention drawn to the nature of 
real Christianity by the proceedings of the Reformers. Among the 
more eminent was Rabbi Elias Levita, commonly called the Gramma- 
rian, with thirty of his followers j Paul Riccius, who was of the court 
of the emperor Maximilian ; Johannes Isaac, afterwards professor of 
divinity at Cologne j Emmanuel Tremellius, well known as the trans- 
lator of the Scriptures, and the famous Cabbalist, Meir. (Alsted. 
Chron. and Jewish Exp. 1816, p. 425.) 

" The first application of the Jews for re-admission was in Crom- 
well's time ; the discussions raised by which may be found at large in 
the Harleian Miscellany, vol. vii. p. 578. Their return however was 
only connived at till the restoration of Charles II. In 1753 a bill 
passed, naturalizing all Jews who had dwelt three years in England; 
but the clamour against it was so great, that it was immediately re- 
pealed. (See the 26th Geo. II. cap. 26, and the 27th Geo. II. cap. 1.) 


and establishment of the reformation, during which the 
Jews were still neglected ; nor was it until about the j 

era of the French revolution that their political eman- j 

cipation may be said to have commenced. Though j 

the principles which produced that revolution mani- « 

festly tended to promote a spirit of indifference, in 
regard to all strictly religious considerations; yet ] 

the heavy blows which they inflicted upon the idol 
reared up by bigotry and intolerance, have neverthe- \ 

less been overruled by Providence for good. At \ 

first, indeed, the spread of the revolutionary doctrines j 

operated unfavourably upon the Jews. The great 
infidels of the day could not but regard Israel as 
living witnesses against their own atheistical sen- 
timents ; and when they found the Jews not to be 
coaxed or shaken from their principles, mingled 
contempt and scorn was poured upon them ; x whilst 
Frederick of Prussia enacted against them severe 
decrees. But when it was perceived that the emanci- 
pation of the Jews would be another step gained 
toward removing the formidable barriers, which the 
ancient institutions and prejudices of Europe op- 
posed to the levelling doctrines, many began to urge 
their alleged political rights. In the year 1780 the 
emperor Joseph II. who has been considered the har- 
binger of the French revolution, first ameliorated 
their condition ; which step was followed in France, in 
1784 and 1788, by some relaxation of the laws against 
them in that country. In 1791 they were granted 
equal rights with French citizens; and a similar 
decree was published in Holland in 1796. In 1806 

i See Voltaire's Correspondence with the Jews, and subsequent 
mention of them; also *'Lettres de quelques Juifs Portugais, &c. a. 
M. de Voltaire." 


Napoleon endeavoured to win the Jews to his in- 
terests, by convening in Paris a great Sanhedrim, 
the decisions of which he intended should be impe- 
rative on their brethren throughout the world. 1 A 
few Jews, who had lapsed from their own principles, 
applauded the scheme ; but the generality suspected 
his designs, and the attempt consequently proved 
abortive. Nevertheless these movements have had 
the effect of awakening the attention of the conti- 
nental princes to the condition of the Jews; some 
of whom have cheerfully interfered in their behalf, 
being prompted by an enlightened policy ; and others 
have been impelled by the current of the times to 
adopt more liberal measures. 

The bearing, however, of the laws which have been 
enacted in different states will be better understood, 
if we first briefly review the religious and moral con- 
dition of the European Jews, which has undergone 
little change from the period of their emerging out 
of the dark ages down into the present century. 

The Jews cannot boast of religious unity, any more 
than Christians ; but are divided into sects, princi- 
pally distinguished by their zeal for the traditions, 
or by their rejection of them. 

I. Rabbinism chiefly prevails, and continues to be 
conspicuous, as in the days of Christ, for " binding 
men with burdens grievous to be borne ; " of which 
a description of the ceremonies of daily purification 
will serve as an illustration. 

The Jew is bound to rise early on all days ; but pro- 
gressively earlier as he approaches the Sabbath, on 

1 Address of M. Mole, 18 Sep. 1806. 


which day he rises the earliest of all. His first duty 
on awaking is to thank God for restoring to him his 
soul; which he is taught to believe quits the body 
during sleep, and may not find its way back to its 
proper tenement. But as he must not mention the 
name of God with unwashen hands, a special form 
of thanksgiving is appointed for this occasion, in 
which he is only styled " the self- existing King'' He 
next has to put on his clothes, after a form minutely 
prescribed ; and then he hastens to wash : for he 
further believes that an evil spirit took possession 
of his body during the absence of his soul, which 
will not depart till after the proper lustrations : 
to go four yards with unwashen hands is even de- 
clared to be worthy of death. He is therefore di- 
rected immediately to seize with his right hand the 
ewer previously placed near to him, to pour water 
from it into the left hand, and from thence on to 
the right hand thrice ; and afterwards, reversing the 
order, to proceed in like manner with the left hand. 
The mouth must be rinsed before he pronounces 
the name of God, great care being taken that a 
single drop does not escape into the throat. Nu- 
merous cautions are added against spilling the 
water, and an improper disposal of the refuse ; 
and many nice questions are discussed, as to whe- 
ther a man is bound to wash his hands before nam- 
ing God, who has watched all night, or who has 
not been able to sleep, or who rises before day, or 
who sleeps during the day. If water, however, cannot 
be readily procured, the Jew may then rub his hands 
in the dust or on the earth ; which is considered suffi- 
cient to entitle him to name God, though it will not 
drive out the evil spirit! Next the face must be 


washed, because it is the image of God ; after which 
every part of the dress must be put on, with the same 
careful attention to rules, and with the dread of in- 
curring punishment from God if they are neglected. 
In like manner there are burdensome precepts for 
various other duties and seasons of the day. 1 

The rabbins profess that they themselves practise a 
more rigorous observance of the traditions than their 
disciples. Each one boasts that he keeps 613 com- 
mandments ; some of which are not destitute of ex- 
cellence, in regard to the worship of the heart ; but 
they are more than neutralized by the superior merit 
inculcated of observing the ceremonials, 2 which, as 
in the particulars just instanced concerning purifica- 
tion, are trivial and absurd, keeping the spirit of 
the Jew in continual bondage, and exerting a per- 
nicious influence upon his understanding. 3 

The tendency of rabbinism to degrade the female 
mind is still greater. Women are considered unfit 
to give legal evidence, being classed with slaves, 
children and idiots ; they are not deemed sufficient 
to form a congregation for worship without men, and 
are only required to observe those of the commands 
which relate to ablutions or dress, the sabbaths, 
fasts and festivals, and the preparation and cooking 
of food. The rest of the law is indeed strictly for- 
bidden to them ; insomuch that he who instructs his 
daughter therein is declared to teach her transgres- 

i Treatise Shulchan Aratih. 

2 In the treatise Sepher Lov Tov we have the reverse of St. James's 
maxim, " that he who keepeth the whole law, and yet transgresseth 
in one point is guilty of all : » therein it is declared, "that he who 
keeps the Sabbath aright has as much merit as if he kept the whole 

3 Dr. Wolff says "that he never met with a Jew versed in the Tal- 
mud, who could think straight, as other men do." 


sion ; l whilst the' only books which they are per- 
mitted to read are of the most puerile and ridiculous 
character. 2 

The resemblance of Rabbinism to Popery has al- 
ready been alluded to, (page 502,) but it requires 
to be further pointed out in its particulars : for 
considering the antipathy of Jews to Roman Catho- 
lics more especially,— who are, on account of their 
worship of images, the great stumbling-block in 
the way of the Jews receiving Christ,— the simila- 
rity of the two systems, in other respects, is the 
more remarkable. 

1. Like as in Popery, the holy scriptures are pro- 
fessedly acknowledged by the Jews as the word of 
God, and the foundation of their faith ; but the study 
of them is prevented by the greater prominence and 
encouragement given to tradition. The rabbins 
teach, " that to study the Bible can scarcely be 
deemed a virtue ; to study the Mishna (or Oral law) 
is a virtue that will certainly be rewarded ; but to 
study the Gemara (or Commentators) is a virtue 
never to be surpassed." 3 

2. They believe that the verdict of rabbins of inte- 
grity assembled in council is infallible. 

3. The Talmud still commands the conversion of 
the heathen by force, and pronounces death against 

l Hilchoth Eduth. cap. ix. and Orach Chaiim, sect. 55. 
2 Dr. McCaul informs us that the favourite Sabbath reading among 
the Jewish women is Rabbi Jacob's Commentary on the Pentateuch, 
&c called also "the Women's Pentateuch," which he describes as a 
compilation of all that is marvellous and absurd ; insomuch that if the 
Biblical citations were omitted, it might be classed with Tom Thumb 
or Jack the Giant Killer. As it stands, (he observes,) it appears to 
the Christian reader the most inconceivable mixture of absurdity and 
gravity." (Sketches of Judaism and the Jews.) 
3 Dr. McCaul's Sketches, &c. 


the recusants ; though in their reformed catechisms 
they endeavour, (like the Romanists,) by means of 
ambiguous expressions and sophistical statements, to 
conceal that they still hold persecuting sentiments. 1 

4. Judaism asserts the efficacy of good works to- 
ward procuring salvation ; as might be expected from 
what has been adduced on the virtue of studying the 
Gemara. And with a marvellous inconsistency, 
though the reading of the law is scarcely deemed a 
virtue, yet the taking out of the Pentateuch, on the 
days on which it is appointed to be read, is considered 
so meritorious a work, that the privilege of perform- 
ing it is sold in some places to the highest bidder. 
To stand on the left hand of the reader during the 
lection, and to close and remove the book after it is 
read, are likewise considered meritorious acts, and 
the permission to perform them is sold separately. 2 
Great merit is also attached to fasting and alms- 
giving ; and where they have the power they punish 
those who do not contribute to the general collections 
for the poor. 

5. They plead the merits of saints : the Jew those 
of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob ; the Jewess those of 
Sarah, Rebecca, and Leah, with other inferior saints. 3 

l McCaul's Sketches, p. 134; Milcoth M'Cachim, cap. viii. s. 10.— 
They greatly despise all other nations ; insomuch that when com- 
pelled to use the phrase " Jews and Gentiles," the more,higotted in- 
troduce a redundant word after and (generally V*)nV which sig- 
nifies to divide) in order, as they say, that the profane may not he 
brought too near the holy. They deny salvation to Christians and 
Mahomedans, because they consider them to be destroyers of the 
law ; but pagans, who have observed the seven precepts of Noah, they 
think^wiaj/ be saved with an inferior salvation. 

2 Ewald's Journal, Jewish Intelligencer, 1838, p. 155. 

3 In the Jewish year of the world 5316, twenty-four Spanish Jews, 
fugitives to Italy, were condemned for holding Hebrew worship, then 
interdicted in Spain, and were publicly burnt. A lamentation com- 


6. They further attribute great merit to pilgrimages 
to the Holy Land, believing that every pilgrim re- 
ceives remission of his sins. 1 

7. They believe in a purgatory ; and whilst they 
assert that every Israelite has a part in the world to 
come, they think that the wicked are first purified 
from their sins in the infernal regions. 2 

8. They use prayers for the dead ; a principal part 
of the meritorious duties of females being to visit the 
cemeteries, and pray over the graves. 3 

9. The generality of the Jews likewise pray in an 
unknown tongue. For though their liturgy is written 
in Hebrew, many cannot read it ; and a greater num- 
ber, who read Hebrew with fluency, do not under- 
stand its meaning. 4 

The Jewish Liturgy, like the Romish, contains 
much scripture, and is often very beautiful; 5 but 

posed by a contemporary rabbi still exists, and the following is a 
prayer still used by the Jews : — " Grant that for the merits of these 
holy martyrs, and for the merits of our three holy fathers, Abraham, 
Isaac, and Jacob, and the tears we pour forth, that the holy temple 
may be rebuilt in our days." (Jewish Expositor, 1828. p. 415.) 

I Jew. Intel. 1836, p. 60. — The Jews consider all who die and are 
buried in the holy land sure of eternal life, and that there will be no re- 
surrection for such as are buried elsewhere; though they allow a way 
of escape for the just, whose bodies are supposed to be rolled through 
subterranean passages, until they arrive in the valley of Jehoshaphat. 
It is likewise remarkable, that as the Jews believe that the worms are 
not allowed to touch the bodies of those buried in Palestine ; so the 
Roman Catholics of Pisa, in order to prevent the worms, have filled 
the Campo Santo with earth brought from Jerusalem as ballast in 
their galleys ; and assert that it has the effect of reducing a fresh corpse 
to a skeleton in twenty-four hours. (Wright's Travels, p. 383.) 
2 Customs, &c. of the Jews; by Hyam Isaacs, p. 255. 

3 Ibid. p. 10. McCaul's Sketches, p. 106 j and Modern Judaism, p. 
181, in which are many specimens of their prayers. Their common 
phrase also concerning a departed person is — May his soul rest in peace ! 

4 O'Neill's Journal; Jewish Expositor 1827; and Hyam Isaac's 
Customs, &c. p. 253. 

o Much of it is translated into English in Hyam Isaac's "Ceremo- 
nies, Customs, &c. of the Jews." 


they also have many absurdities intermingled. The 
following extract from the Prayers for the New Year, 
used in the London synagogues, will afford a speci- 
men : " O deign to hear the voice of those who glorify 
Thee with all their members, according to the number 
of the 248 affirmative precepts. In this month they 
blow thirty sounds, according to the thirty members 
of the soles of their feet. "The additional offerings 
of the day are ten, according to the ten members ih 
their ankles. They approach the altar twice, accord- 
ing to their two legs. Five men are called to the law, 
according to the five joints in their knees. Lo ! with 
the additional offering of the new moon they are eleven, 
according to their eleven ribs. They pour out their 
supplication with nine blessings, according to the 
muscles in their arms. These contain thirty verses, ac- 
cording to the thirty in the palms of their hands. They 
daily repeat the prayer of eighteen blessings, accord- 
ing to the eighteen vertebrae in their spine. At the 
offering of the continual sacrifice they sound nine 
times, according to the nine muscles in their head. 
In the two orisons they blow eight times, according 
to the eight vertebrae of their neck. Their statutes 
and laws are contained in five books, according to the 
five perforations. He hath ordained the six orders 
of the Mishna, according to the six different imagi- 
nations of the heart and inward parts : also the ani- 
mal life, spirit, rational soul, perception, appetite, the 
skin, flesh, veins, and bones,— these shall all lift up 
the eye, and pierce the ear, and open the mouth, that 
with the tongue and speech of their lips, and from 
the sole of the foot to the head, they may show the 
particulars of their good acts; so that, when the 
sound of the cornet ascends, their adversaries may be 


ashamed, and that they may be justified in the day 
of judgment, and hear the second time from their 
God." 1 

i The reader may perhaps be disposed to question if the above 
can be paralleled in Popery; let him then peruse the following ex- 
tract from Heart's Religious Ceremonies and Explanations of the 
Mass. «' The priest goes to the altar; in reference to our Lord's 
retreat with his apostles to the garden of Olivet. Before he begins 
mass, he says a preparatory prayer ; he is there to look upon himself 
as one abandoned of God and driven out of paradise for the sin of 
Adam. The priest kisses the altar ; as a token of our reconciliation 
with God, and of our Lord's being betrayed with a kiss. The priest goes 
to the epistle side of the altar, and thurifies or perfumes it with in- 
cense : Jesus Christ is now supposed to be taken and bound. The 
Jntroite is sung ;— applicable to the circumstance of our Lord's being 
taken before Caiaphas. The priest says the Kyrie Eleison ; in allusion 
to Peter's denying our Lord thrice. The priest turns to the altar and 
says, Dominus vobiscum; the people return the salutation by Et cum 
Spiritu tuo ; this means Christ looking at Peter. The priest, bowing 
before the altar, says, Munda Cor; and the devotion is directed to our 
Saviour's being brought before Pilate and making no reply. The 
priest reads the gospel, &c. The gospel is carried from the right of 
the altar to the left, to denote the tender of the Gospel to the Gen- 
tiles, after the refusal of the Jews. The priest uncovers the chalice : 
this means the stripping of our Lord, in order to be scourged. The 
priest kisses the altar and offers up the host; to represent the scourg- 
ing of Christ. The priest elevates the chalice, then covers it; this 
means the crowning with thorns, &am